With Stirling’s arts and culture venues closed to the public, local artists and creatives are coming up with new ways to connect with their audiences and bring communities together.

A wide variety of virtual experiences are now available online to ensure locals can still get a creative and cultural fix while in lockdown.


Artlink Central's Dial-an-Artist scheme

Artlink Central’s Dial-an-Artist scheme.

Local charity Artlink Central has designed an uplifting programme of live workshops and one-to-one experiences, including an innovative dial-an-artist service for anyone in hospital. The service will also be made available to those living at home with dementia.

Artlink Director, Kevin Harrison said: “We’re beaming an artist into hospitals and homes across Forth Valley, offering any child or adult in hospital or anyone living at home with dementia the chance of having a one to one creative session via their phone, tablet or computer.  Whether they are into music or sculpting, dancing or painting, or anything in between, we’ll match them with an artist who shares their passion and get them creating.”

The charity is also taking its Open Artspace service, aimed at supporting wellbeing, online during the crisis. Virtual sessions will be led by artist Aya Iguchi, who said: “We understand that staying at home can leave us feeling stressed, anxious and isolated, so we’re offering weekly Wednesday afternoon sessions via Zoom to provide much needed social contact and a safe and creative space to connect at this difficult time. You don’t have to be an artist to take part, just an interest in trying something creative.”

Artlink is also offering weekly bite sized creative workshops with easy creative ideas for children and families to do at home or in hospital with limited materials.

The Creative Bytes Facebook sessions will be run by local artist Alan Bryden, who said: “Whether you’re rooting around for short activities for children to do, or an adult searching for inspiration for a creative project, our Creative Bytes sessions will give you all you need to make something in a few minutes or spin it out into a bigger project. Best of all, you don’t need a lot of materials to make something special, so you can take part whether you are in a ward, a care home or just at home.” For further information see: www.facebook.com/artlinkcentral


One of Stirling’s oldest culture venues, The Smith has also quickly adapted to life online and is running its first online art exhibition entitled: The Rainbow Connection: Rainbows in Stirlingshire and beyond, inspired by the rainbow artwork displayed in windows across the region. The museum is asking people to submit photos of their rainbow creations to heather@thesmith.scot with the artist’s name or tweet @smithmuseum.

The Smith is also posting a Museum Alphabet on twitter, each day reveals an object in the museum’s collection beginning with a different letter. It also has plans for Art and Mindfulness therapy sessions and activities with their poet in residence, John Coutts. To cater for those not online, the Smith is developing a book of 20 great paintings from its collection to distribute to local households.

Events and Exhibition Officer, Heather Carroll said: “The Covid-19 crisis has put many museums and galleries in a challenging position since so much of our engagement with the public is through physical visits. However, many are finding that in this situation we need creative outlets even more, whether it is through discovering new art or busying ourselves with crafts. So, during this unusual time the Smith is transforming itself from a physical space for the community to a virtual one in which we can provide tools for healing through art and learning. We hope that we can provide some respite to the community, and likewise, they can tell us what more we can do for them.

“Although we are dealing with a horrible health crisis, one positive to come out of it is how people have been uniting in isolation. Our online exhibition The Rainbow Connection celebrates one of the ways in which we have done this. The different rainbows in windows have turned our streets into colourful art galleries. As the lockdown measures ask us to only walk within our own neighbourhood, The Rainbow Connection allows everyone to see some of the rainbows on display.”

Local mosaic artist JudyJamJar with her latest creation, a giant rainbow inspired by the rainbow paintings made by the children in the village of Kippen. It sits in her front garden to be enjoyed by anyone walking past.

Local mosaic artist Judy Reed with her latest creation.


Kippen Artist Judy Reed, otherwise known as Judy Jam Jar, has created a special mosaic piece ‘Rainbow of Hope’ which has gone on display in her front garden. She said: “It’s inspired by the beautiful rainbows made by local children which bring me joy as I walk around the village. I’m hoping to share the love as they walk past my wee cottage.”


First year HND Art and Design student at Forth Valley College, Ellie Rodenburg-Abro (18) has also used the rainbow project as inspiration. Ellie was working on the ‘Community Project’ section of her course, hoping to do some workshops at either her local primary school, high school or Girl Guides, when the current regulations set in. But she was fascinated by a Facebook community group ‘Believe in Rainbows’ who were helping to inspire some positivity across the UK by encouraging people isolated in their homes to draw, colour, use other art materials and paint rainbows and place them in their windows. She organised for her family to take part in the workshop in their living room and took photos of them creating their rainbows on the day and sent them to her lecturers. Ellie said: “I really liked the Believe in Rainbows Facebook page and I thought I could adapt that to link it to my course and show some positivity and joy throughout this uncertain time. I organised for my family to be creative through an hour-long workshop and we all enjoyed doing it as it took our minds off work and the situation. My hope would be to encourage people to have some fun like this, especially when times are difficult.”

FVC Creative Industries Curriculum Manager, Linda Paterson, said: “This is a great example of creative problem solving. Instead of dwelling on the fact that she could no longer carry out her planned project, Ellie saw this as an opportunity to give her family something positive to focus on and get her project completed at the same time. Ellie completed all of this within a week of the college closing!”


While the Made in Stirling store is currently closed to customers, the hub is opening its doors every evening, with Sara MacMillan’s Kitchen at 44 operating a local distribution point for food items donated by supermarkets – a service open to everyone and importantly, tackling food waste issues. The Creative Stirling team and artists have also been working hard behind the scenes to create an online shop so customers can continue to support the growing Made in Stirling collective during the closure: www.madeinstirlingstore.com

Director Joe Hall said: “We’ve had so many emails from our amazing customers and supporters, asking how they can support us and now they can. The website is a work in progress with more creative content and livestream events and workshops added daily. But for now, our supporters can browse our amazingly talented collective from home, as well as buy vouchers or book onto future events once we reopen our doors, which will happen thanks to our recent successful application for Third Sector Resilience Funding. It’s so great to have some good news in these challenging times. The emergency award will help us through; it’s a wonderful endorsement that our social enterprise is being recognised as an organisation that is ‘vital for community support and inspiration’ during the Covid-19 crisis.”


The Macrobert’s doors may be closed but there are still arts events and activities available for everyone at www.macrobertartscentre.org Their What’s On in the Digital World section introduces a brilliant range of online arts experiences to keep audiences entertained and inspired whilst staying at home. Theatre staff, in partnership with artists and audience members, are curating links to a wide variety of Film, Theatre, Opera, Dance and Music to stream at home. These free to view experiences include the excellent work of Stirling’s cultural partners, the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House and a wide range of independent and mainstream movie makers. They are also offering plenty of opportunities for everyone to contribute their creative activities starting with an Ultra-short film competition, 60 seconds in Lockdown. There’s also more to come on their social media channels and website; don’t miss the Wednesday Film Quiz!

Julie Ellen, Artistic Director said, “The outpouring of creative activity and the generosity of people from all walks of life during lockdown has been inspirational. We’re looking forward to sharing all of this with our friends and audience members old and new throughout the weeks ahead, throwing a spotlight on some of the fabulous online cultural offering and celebrating everyone’s creativity.”


Stirling’s Tolbooth is beaming its Saturday Shindig straight into living rooms to keep audiences entertained at home during the Coronavirus pandemic. Every Saturday at 7.30pm the Tolbooth is live streaming a variety of exciting artists on Facebook, helping to bring the community together in this difficult time through an online Watch Party.   The free performances will see talented artists offering live sets from their homes to yours, attempting to lift everyone’s spirits through music, and online interaction.

Convener of Stirling Council’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee, Councillor Chris Kane, said: “I think it is fantastic that the creativity of the Tolbooth artistic community has come together to find a way for all of us to continue to enjoy the thrilling and communal experience of live music in lockdown.

“It feels different and unusual, but I suspect this format will be a great success and stay with us as a complementary cultural experience long after our venues reopen in the future.”

Vice Convener, Cllr Maureen Bennison, said: “I have no doubt that the Tolbooth’s Saturday Shindig live streams will help people enjoy some fantastic musical performances as the Council shows its continued commitment to its cultural offering.”

All performances are free to stream, and the Tolbooth is asking those that are in a position to do so, to make a voluntary donation to Tiny Changes, a charity working to improve mental health and wellbeing in Scotland.  The Tolbooth is already working on Season 2 of its Saturday Shindig, which will be in support of Action in Mind.


Historic Environment Scotland is also making a variety of learning resources and materials available online. Dorothy Hoskins of the Engine Shed said: “Be inspired by your local landmarks including Stirling Castle, Dunblane Cathedral and Cambuskenneth Abbey, and learn about Scotland’s traditional buildings, materials and skills with Engine Shed resources. Keep an eye on Historic Environment Scotland @HistEnvScot and @HESEngineShed for updates.”


The University is taking its collections online during the Covid-19 closure, sharing art work on its new Culture on Campus website as well as on social media #CultureOnStirCampus. It is also hosting ‘explore our campus’ sessions – via blogs and films – every Monday, highlighting artworks, landscape and architecture on campus.

University Art Curator Jane Cameron said: “This month, we’re also taking part in #Archive30 a promotional campaign on twitter organised by the Archives and Records Association. Like many other services across the country we will be taking up the challenge of tweeting all 30 daily topics throughout the month! We will be highlighting some of the treasures of our Art Collection through interviews with the curators, films from exhibiting artists and a featured ‘object of the week.’ We hope our collections can provide a source of information, education, inspiration and amusement during these uncertain times.”


Catrin Gilchrist Big Noise Raploch

Catrin Gilchrist from Big Noise Raploch.

From mid-April Raploch based music project Big Noise will be offering one-to-one lessons via video call with the children and young people who normally attend their after-school club. The team is also creating a range of pre-recorded teaching videos for different instruments and skill levels. The project will also be keeping in touch with the local community through regular Facebook updates, including fun musical videos and useful information for parents and carers during the lockdown period.




The city’s Place Partnership project, Scene Stirling, managed by Artlink Central aims to shine a spotlight on Stirling’s arts and culture sector. More information can be found at: www.scenestirling.com

If you have a story to share contact: hello@scenestirling.com