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Culture will help region recover

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By Donald Turvill
Culture will help  region recover
Slipware potters Hannah McAndrew and Douglas Fitch from Castle Douglas

DUMFRIES and Galloway has secured its place in a national cultural programme where creatives, artists and innovators will play a key role in the region’s recovery from Covid-19.

The Stove Network in Dumfries announced its application to the Scottish Government’s Culture Collective programme has been successful.

The initiative is investing £6 million between 26 regional projects across Scotland, and has awarded the maximum amount of £300,000 to the region’s ‘What We Do Now’ pitch, devised by The Stove alongside the council and local agencies South of Scotland Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway, and a collective of local arts organisations.

The sum will pay creative freelancers whose livelihoods have been decimated by the pandemic to work in communities and support local groups who have also been badly impacted by Covid-19.

The crucial funding is enough to fund planned projects in Sanquhar, Dalbeattie, Langholm, Stranraer and Northwest Dumfries over the next year.

Orchestrator of The Stove Network, Matt Baker said: “This is wonderful news and a very powerful recognition of the way that Dumfries and Galloway considers culture and creativity as something that is integrated into the heart of the way we do things in communities, in the economy and in the environment in our region.

“Culture is not something for an elite; it is something that belongs to all of us and something that we all make together. Culture Collective is part of our country’s commitment to ‘build back better’ – it uses years of dedicated work at grassroots level as the foundation for a major pilot project to devolve decision-making and funding to local level and create the conditions for partnership working across sectors to ensure the legacy of this approach.”

Martin O’Neill, The Stove’s artistic director, added: ‘‘What We Do Now is all about imagining today, the world we wish to exist in and making the steps towards creating that world now, a world shaped by the gifts and ideas of the communities we belong to and serve. It explores and brings to the surface, the voices previously unheard in our region so that we can empower ideas and communities, through creativity, to celebrate and cherish the places that we live.”

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