Community driven creativity in Moray

28th January 2019

In this guest blog for SRN, Stacey Toner of Moray: Arts Development Engagement (M:ADE) tells us about the work of this new community focused creative organisation based in the North of Scotland.

Established to promote creative learning and community citizenship through arts, culture and heritage, M:ADE looks to fill some of the gaps left behind by local authority budget cuts.

Still very much in the early days of conception, M:ADE has no employees and is being pushed forward by myself – Stacey Toner – and a small but dedicated board of four.  Still unsure how M:ADE will develop, we are currently working to gain a greater understanding of need and demand whilst organically growing our profile.  The overarching vision is to have salaried socially engaged artists working with and for communities across all eight associated school group areas of Moray – but this is a long way away!

The idea for M:ADE came when I moved back to the area in June 2018.  Having been away for study and employment for seven years before, I’d been active in places with strong cultural identity and did not feel the same was true of Moray on my return.  I have now had time to reconnect with networks and pockets of activity and it would be unfair to say that creativity isn’t visible or doesn’t exist – I now believe that M:ADE could have a role in improving cultural cohesion and ecology rather than in programming and provision.  This month we welcomed over 20 practitioners to a Culture Café event in our home in Elgin to promote connection and sharing of resources – the collective will and energy is most definitely there to improve the local arts scene.

As we take our next steps into 2019 there are a number small projects we aim to deliver that have an emphasis on community learning and development and wellbeing; the drive behind these projects is to expand our reach and to engage with people in different ways.

On the A96 between Forres and Elgin, we have adopted the abandoned BT kiosk in Alves – we aim to reinvent this as an arts space/gallery and are on track for a grand opening at the start of the year, featuring the work of local people inspired by portals and place.  You can support this project by purchasing limited edition prints from our website (home made with love!), all inspired by the wee toon of Elgin.

Another project looks to develop a new resource for secondary schools and community groups based around male mental health and suicide.  An issue that has become close to my heart recently, I have become aware of the lack of materials and feel there is a gap for something with a regional context – we aim to work closely with a local filmmaker and Moray Wellbeing Hub in the New Year to bring this project forward.

Last but definitely by no means least we have applied for support through TSI Moray to pilot a new project inspired by recovery and community integration.  S.Print would see the delivery of a ten-week programme, combining spinning (group cycling classes) and printmaking, as a way for people to explore new ways to improve physical and mental health.  We want to encourage those in recovery to attend with a friend or family member as we believe this could provide an alternative way to meet others and socialise whilst trying something new.

Please do follow us on social media to follow our journey and to see how things start to come together – you may be as surprised as us with what comes next, as we are still not too sure ourselves!



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