On her second Art in Action campaign visit, Joan McAlpine MSP (South Scotland) met with The Stove Network. Since 2011, the network has been comprised of a collective of local artists that have worked tirelessly to breathe new life into Dumfries High Street, whilst developing new opportunities.
The Stove Network have already worked with Dumfries and Galloway council to secure an Asset Transfer of the one publicly owned property in the block – 135-139 High Street, which is now known as the The Oven, currently hosting exhibitions and events, whilst the property awaits development.
Now recognised as the first artist led Community Development Trust in the UK, the Stove Network are now developing plans for Midsteeple Quarter, a building project which aims to bring affordable homes and enterprise space back into Dumfries town centre.
Joan met with The Stove Network founder Matt Baker, alongside Scott McKay, Chair of Midsteeple Quarter and Mike Staples, Director of Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust at the Stove’s fully accessible public art and meeting space at 100 High Street.
There, she found out more about the important role that local visual artists and members of the community have played in making Dumfries a more vibrant and creative place to be. They also discussed the importance of supporting a network that creates opportunities and connections for the creative community whilst engaging with local economies and wider society.
By working with creative people in the town, the Midsteeple Quarter project has provided a new artistic way to connect meaningfully with the community.
An artist led approach to redevelopment and regeneration brings with it playfulness, imagination, conversation and a willingness to take risks within the project.