The Stove & Workhouse Union – Learning Exchange

The Stove & Workhouse Union – Learning Exchange

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During 2024, The Stove, and the WWDN network, are partnering with Workhouse Union, a community co-design organisation based in Callan, Co. Kilkenny. Ireland, to engage in a learning exchange and share experience in their creative placemaking work

This initiative allows representatives from each organisation, to visit the other, and join each other’s team for a short period.

For a week in June, The Stove’s Artistic Director, Martin O’Neil and Marketing Officer, Erin Aitchison, will travel to Ireland to spend a week with the Workhouse Union team, learning about their approaches to community embedded practice, partnership work and engagement methodology, with a particular focus on their print activity. In return, The Stove will host Mark Girling who will join in with quarterly Dark Time sessions, and taking part in meetings and other workshops, to see how we work together to develop and deliver our programmes.

Workhouse Union are a trusted community co-design and creative placemaking organisation, they support the development of inclusive, meaningful, positive places and communities. Their unique approach is rooted in care and collaboration and centres around the role of creativity, arts, and imagination in bringing people together around complex issues and challenges.

Town Ecologies Community Co-design Workshop, Goresbridge (2023)
Town Ecologies Community Co-design Workshop, Goresbridge (2023)

The relationship between The Stove and Workhouse Union was established a few years ago (2021), with Stove CEO, Matt Baker, taking part in an Irish Arts Council conference ‘Place Matter’s’ panel with Rosie Lynch and visiting Callan as part of the trip. This connection then led to Workhouse Union’s Creative Director, Rosie, travelling to Dumfries to co-facilitate The Stove’s kNOw One Place forum, Scotland’s first on creative placemaking. Rosie led Day One of the event which brought together over 50 people; artists and community groups from The Stove’s What We Do Now project with other project partners and freelancers from Dumfries and Galloway and The Borders to initiate a Manifesto for Creative Placemaking.

Building relationships with other organisations and embarking on exchanges like this is a vital part of the development process, particularly for organisations working in the creative placemaking arena. 

“It is hard to overstate the importance of exchange. Learning about and understanding the work of others allows us to see our own work in new ways, highlighting areas of opportunity and development and sharing processes to support that. It is also a way for us to bring others into that exchange, sharing our connections and broadening our collective networks for greater collaboration.” – Katharine Wheeler, Director of WWND

Leave the Long Grass Grow, Print Workshop in Collaboration with the Acorn Project at PrintBlock Callan 
(2023)
Leave the Long Grass Grow, Print Workshop in Collaboration with the Acorn Project at PrintBlock Callan
(2023)

Workhouse Union have been a highly valued ‘critical friend’ in the development of the What We Do Now (WWDN) creative placemaking network for Dumfries and Galloway. As part of the launch of WWDN in May, Workhouse Union offered ‘Workhouse EXCHANGE’, a paid active research residency opportunity for two artists from the WWDN network to explore their creative placemaking practice within the context of Workhouse Union’s work in Callan. Find out more here.

‘Creative placemaking is an emergent practice. Our ongoing partnership and this years learning exchange is an essential opportunity for us to share experience and collaborate with The Stove who have developed ground-breaking approaches to creative placemaking and community-led place based projects. We’re also delighted to strengthen artistic connections between Scotland and Ireland’ – Rosie Lynch, Creative Director, Workhouse Union.

As the learning exchange progresses, we’ll bring you updates on what our team discovers, what inspired them on their trip and what they’ve learned.  If you want to keep an eye on what Martin and Erin on their travels, follow our social accounts.

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