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The latest articles and ideas from Inspiring Scotland and our partners.

26.05.2022

Matt Baker guests blogs on Creative Communities programme after attending its showcase earlier this Month.

Artist and founder of the Stove Network, Matt Baker guests blogs on Creative Communities programme after attending its showcase earlier this Month.  

Firstly, I’d like to congratulate everyone who took part in the Creative Communities programme – from those who first thought up the idea and made it possible – to everyone who has been involved in the 46 communities across the country. As an artist myself I know how exposing and vulnerable it is to put your artwork out in public view and I want to say a particular big up to everyone who has works in this wonderful show – you are all legends!

I am a community artist and when I look at works like these I find myself dreaming a little and reaching into what people are wanting to say about their world. And then imagining a little further into what was happening when they were made. I see the chats, the new friendships formed, the deals made in families to make the space to be there, conversations about shared places and people, the advice given on local issues, the dreams of change, the new skills learned and the new understandings of who we are as people.

Through this lens we see something fundamental about this approach to creativity and culture. We see how taking an active part in making culture, as participants, gives us so much more than the satisfaction of self-expression and making something to show to others. It creates new connections in communities, new stories and knowledge that bind people together in deep ways. Ways that combat the isolation and anxiety that plagues our society and leads to breakdowns in people, families and the fabric of community that should support us all.

As well as health, and skills, and justice benefits, these projects can spark new confidence and ideas that lead to new projects to improve places and sometimes even new enterprises and businesses.

Research study after research study has shown active participation in creativity leads to happier people and happier places. And yet we have all grown up with the idea that culture is not made by the likes of us, it is made by special people and our role is just to admire it, not be part of making it. Projects like this give us a glimpse into another possible world. A world where it is completely normal for everyone to be creative and be part of making the culture of Scotland.

  • Imagine if at school all our creativity had been nurtured, be that in singing, gardening, cooking, den making or making up stories.
  • Imagine if every town and village had a community festival where everyone took part and it was one of the ways that places welcomed new people into being part of their future.
  • Imagine too what such a vision would mean for those working in the arts. Long term jobs working alongside communities, jobs that would support other parts of their careers and help make amazing art that would put us on a world stage as a country, where we value things differently and put people first.

If we are going to move to a way of doing culture in Scotland that is centred on participation, then we need a plan that brings into being creative projects in education, in health, in community development and regeneration.

And we also need a progression pathway of projects like Creative Communities that work at the grassroots of places and start to build networks and skills so that larger projects can then take root in those places and arts workers can gain experience too. The sister project of Creative Communities is called Culture Collective, it currently has 26 projects of regional scale running around Scotland. Reading the Creative Communities report and looking at the great work in this exhibition, it seems obvious to me that Creative Communities could work as a learning pathway towards a Culture Collective project in these places in the future.

As a country we have a wonderful folk tradition of collective creativity through stories, songs and ceilidhs. In the context of Covid, the mental health crisis and the climate emergency we can see that the old solutions are just not work working anymore. They are tearing us further apart. We have to try something new, something that brings us together again. Creative communities has been showing the way in 46 places around the country and as we say in Dumfries “may it continues on!”.

Find out more about the showcase event.

Find out more about Creative Communities programme.

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Matt Baker guests blogs on Creative Communities programme after attending its showcase earlier this Month.
26.05.2022

Matt Baker guests blogs on Creative Communities programme after attending its showcase earlier this Month.

Artist and founder of the Stove Network, Matt Baker guests blogs on Creative Communities programme after attending its showcase earlier this Month.   Firstly, I’d like to congratulate everyone who took part in the Creative Communities programme – from those who first thought up the idea and made it possible – to everyone who has been

Read More