MICROCLUSTER NETWORKS // DUNOON GOES POP
Place Makers is part of Microcluster Networks, a research project created and delivered in collaboration with Dr Michael Pierre Johnson from The Innovation School at Glasgow School of Art to investigate the impacts of creative collaborations in Argyll and the Isles.
The Place Makers aspect of this wider research into network development was funded by a grant to CHARTS from Creative Scotland's Create: Networks fund. This enabled CHARTS to open applications for three creative collaborations that focused on place making in Argyll and the Isles from January to July 2021. Each selected group looked specifically at working with local arts, heritage or industry and how they would engage with communities and regional organisations in ways that enabled places to thrive. Over the course of the Place Makers project, CHARTS supported each group by continuing to develop membership networks through access to expertise, videography and co-evaluation sessions that aimed to cultivate a microcluster culture. Microclusters in this context are a group of businesses, organisations or people in a specific local region who can organise and collaborate around their shared social, cultural or economic interests. This encourages resource and knowledge sharing that led to benefits for those involved and their local economies by creating sustainable and resilient social, creative and business networks.
Dunoon Goes Pop | Building on The People of Place: Shop Keepers of Dunoon
Dunoon Goes Pop focused on developing The People of Place: Shop Keepers of Dunoon. Their work touched on extracting local heritage through using archival materials to develop drink products, maps, visual marketing material and an exhibition on Dunoon High Street inspired by local historical businessman George Stirling’s soft drink factory (1880-1970). The Microcluster created new cultural history by building on pre-existing local stories and peoples. Their work added to the discourse surrounding the heritage of the place, exploring how we interact with it, touching on themes of enslavement and empire along with environmental sustainability through looking into the history of ingredients used in Stirling’s soft drinks.
We used Michael’s Creative Growth Model to capture their development.
Dunoon Goes Pop conducted market research into local soft drink production with support from John Ahrens, a consultant on small-scale food manufacturing. This helped to develop their knowledge of how to produce drinks in an economically viable and environmentally sustainable way, and allowed the team to create an informed social enterprise model, where product development can positively contribute to Dunoon’s microeconomy. By creating a new drink for local people and visitors to enjoy, Dunnon Goes Pop also created an interactive educational tool that engaged the consumer with Dunoon’s history. This included the colonial origins of sugar and spices, Dunoon Goes Pop explored the wider historical legacy of these ingredients and Dunoon’s relation to global history and empire.
Dunoon Goes Pop worked with multiple local heritage groups, such as Dunoon Area Alliance, Dunoon CARS, American Years Revisited, Dunoon Burgh Hall and Green Map, to access local heritage and non-digitised archival materials. This led to the above heritage organisations working with local designers and creatives, to explore how archive material and stories could be used to connect people to local heritage in new ways, enhancing community engagement with place
During the creation of Dunoon Goes Pop’s drinks, local’s were involved, expanding Dunoon’s Microcluster Network and strengthening placemaking. Illustrator Walter Newman was commissioned to make five A3 posters showcasing Dunoon’s past residences, taken from the People Place Archive. Small batches of soft drinks were created which were exhibited at the POP Shop as well as hosted online, engaging both locals and the world with the hidden histories and people of Dunoon.
Dunoon Goes Pop was set up as a social enterprise and is now being further developed, continuing to directly engage with and support Dunoon’s local community and economy. Through engaging with local heritage organisations, residents of Dunoon, rural designers, small grant providers and CHARTS membership networks the project links heritage to more sustainable forms of growth across multiple sectors. By working with these networks Dunoon Goes Pop has shared their learning to date about testing out a product-based enterprise to inform future business planning. This helped to develop specific knowledge of how to create market growth within Argyll and the Isles through heritage and product development.
Place-Making with Dunoon Goes Pop
How do we keep stories of place and local industry alive and support innovation?
When thinking about placemaking and developing Microclusters for creative and heritage organisations/individuals to thrive, Dunoon Goes Pop faced unique challenges specifically related to their region. One of the challenges was how to engage small publicly funded or volunteer-ran organisations in their process of research and developing a drink. Combined with the strain Covid-19 has placed on many organisations’ ability to engage, this sometimes made accessing materials difficult. Through Place Makers, CHARTS are considering how microcluster development could solve this problem; how stories relating to place can be shared through community relations being built between small organisations and small businesses and individuals either living or working within the area. Dunoon Goes Pop has developed a microcluster model that begins to explore and address these issues, by creating a new income-generating, heritage-linked social enterprise in the form of pop drinks. This demonstrates a model for other social enterprises that connects with and supports local heritage organisations and builds on Dunoon’s social history.
More about Dunoon Gose Pop can be discovered in Michaels report and viewed at our Place Makers: Microcluster Networks - Webinar Showcase.
Dunoon Goes Pop:
Hannah Clinch, Founder of Tacit Tacit
Walter Newton, Illustrator, Brand communicator and Digital Animator
Manda Forster, Archaeologist, Heritage Communicator, and Operations Manager at Digventures