Dandelion’s impact released
Over 589,000 take part in Dandelion programme across Scotland as ‘Sow, Grow, Share’ season concludes
- The Dandelion programme ran for six months from Spring to Autumn 2022
- Over 589,000 people took part in live events and hands on schools activities, with audiences and participants all across Scotland
- Over 1,000 events and activities took place across the country
- Live programme culminated with over 500 Harvest events, in the largest ever creative celebration of Harvest in communities across Scotland
- Over 89,000 pupils, plus their families and carers, took part in Dandelion activity across 468 schools
- Investment in communities and sectors all over Scotland supported over 1,000 paid employment opportunities in creative, community and event sectors, alongside professional development programmes for young people & artists
- Following a successful first season, Dandelion now looks to the future
Dandelion, the major creative programme that has reached across Scotland encouraging people to ‘Sow, Grow and Share’ food, music and ideas, has seen over 589,000 people take part in its programme.
Launched in spring 2022, Dandelion’s free programme followed the arc of the growing season, and aimed to make growing your own food as easy and accessible as possible for people of all ages and backgrounds. Its creative programme of festivals, events and installations has celebrated sustainability through community growing, while bringing together music and art with science and technology. Commissioned by EventScotland and funded by the Scottish Government, Dandelion is Scotland’s contribution to UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, and is one of 10 major creative projects that have been taking place during 2022.
Dandelion was created in lockdown and with a mission to build on the spirit of generosity and support that arose within communities during the global pandemic. The programme sought to reconnect people to the land on which their food is grown, how the food we eat is produced and the traditions that surround that, while creating opportunity for new thinking. In turn, it has created jobs, invested in communities, sparked new connections and provided a platform for people to take positive action in the face of the climate emergency.
Dandelion activities were presented all over Scotland, from city centres and towns to remote villages and rural locations, from the Borders to the Highlands and Islands. As its six-month season concludes, 1056 events took place across the programme, at 556 locations, delivered by the Dandelion team and partner organisations in communities across the country.
The programme culminated with the largest-ever creative celebration of Harvest staged across Scotland. This saw over 500 events take place across Scotland in partnership with arts organisations, community groups and schools, in a joyous celebration of people and planet and opportunity to inspire positive social change. Communities came together to create a programme of free to attend events including meals, ceilidhs, and musical performance to celebrate Harvest. Events were delivered with local organisations, including 45 that were awarded support by a bespoke grants programme organised by Dandelion and partner BEMIS, to deliver Harvest celebrations for their communities.
Harvest rounded off a programme which began in April 2022 with the launch of Dandelion’s ‘sow, grow, share’ mission. A digital short film marked the beginning of Dandelion, following the story of musician and crofter Pàdruig Morrison whose grandparents established an experiment in off-grid rural living on Heisgeir in the Outer Hebrides 75 years ago, growing their own food and living sustainably off the land. The themes of the film echo those of the wider programme, as it charts Pàdruig’s return to the island in 2022 as part of Dandelion, featuring new music specially composed by him.
Central to Dandelion was the creation of 12 ‘Unexpected Gardens’ on previously unused or underused land, creating growing and event spaces at the heart of communities, delivered in partnership with local cultural organisations, including those established in underrepresented communities or areas of significant deprivation, where they provided investment and focus for local people. In addition, a ‘Floating Garden’ comprising three vessels, toured the Forth and Clyde canals throughout the summer, visiting 11 locations along its journey, before being berthed by Falkirk’s iconic Kelpies. Over the course of the summer, the gardens presented 482 free events and activities, programmed by Dandelion’s 11 Emerging Creative Producers and supported by 18 Musicians-in-Residence appointed to the gardens.
Alongside the creation of garden spaces for communities, Dandelion also encouraged audiences to get involved and grow their own food by giving away 80,000 free edible plant plugs and seeds at a series of theatrical ‘Free for All’ events designed to engage families and new growers. These took place at 20 locations across Scotland where attendees were also given one to one advice and support from horticultural students from Scotland’s Rural College.
Dandelion’s specially designed ‘Cubes of Perpetual Light’ - accelerated growing environments using developing technologies to grow plants - were experienced by visitors across the country as part of two tours. The first brought the cubes together to create striking music and mesmeric light installations, featuring 13 new music commissions from leading international and Scottish musicians inspired by themes of nature and sustainability, including Mercury-nominated and SAY Award-winner Fergus McCreadie, Grammy award-winning Arooj Aftab in collaboration with Maeve Gilchrist, Maya Youssef and Glasgow-born composer Craig Armstrong. The unique installations visited sites including the Members’ Garden of the Scottish Parliament as part of the Festival of Politics and Edinburgh International Culture Summit, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Inverness Botanic Gardens, Kelburn Garden Party, and V&A Dundee. Cargo bikes carrying individual cubes also toured Scotland, visiting rural and urban locations, introducing Dandelion to communities and sparking conversations about where and how our food is grown. In total, over 96,000 people experienced the cubes at 17 locations across the country.
Elsewhere in the programme, two free, three-day music festivals, programmed in association with Celtic Connections, took place in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park and Inverness’ Northern Meeting Park. Across the two weekends, almost 67,000 audience members attended the festivals, with performances from Scottish and International artists including Del Amitri, King Creosote, Les Amazones d’Afrique, Karine Polwart, Newton Faulkner and many more. In the spirit of Dandelion, alongside the live music, the festivals featured talks, workshops, schools activities and a creative programme for all ages that encouraged audiences to actively engage in conversations about sustainability, climate action and our planet.
In addition to creating public points of connection, Dandelion sought to empower the next generation and support Learning for Sustainability in schools across Scotland. The Dandelion Schools Growing Initiative, delivered in partnership with Keep Scotland Beautiful, enabled 468 schools and 89,101 pupils across Scotland to take part in a 6-month STEAM project that culminated with Harvest events in playgrounds across the country. The schools programme explored community and cultural connections to the land and to the food we grow, and pupils planted their own crop, which included sowing 258,000 potatoes in 2,000 tonnes of specially made growing mix. The programme saw pupils learn about both traditional and cutting-edge methods of growing with 131 Dandelion growing cubes gifted to schools and education establishments, placing new technology into the hands of future custodians & innovators. More than 3,000 pupils took part in a live digital music lesson where they learned Scots songs relating to Harvest from folklorist Steve Byrne, as well as learning a new Gaelic song written for Dandelion by musician Julie Fowlis and ethnologist Raghnaid Sandilands. The resources created for schools remain freely available to access on the Dandelion website.
Through its extensive programme of events and activities, Dandelion has invested in people, places and communities across Scotland. Designed to be delivered in partnership with individuals, communities and existing organisations across the country, in total, the programme worked with 26 Delivery and Hub Partners, including national bodies such as Keep Scotland Beautiful, Scotland’s Rural College, and Scottish Canals, alongside local arts partners including RIG Arts in Greenock, Fèis Rois across the Highlands, and Lyth Arts Centre in Wick, and 100s of community partners across different sectors and locations, for example GalGael in Govan, the Inverclyde Shed and The Leven Programme, Fife. This ensured that Dandelion’s funding was invested far and wide across the country, creating new opportunities for partners and fairly distributing support.
In turn, over 1,000 paid employment opportunities were created through Dandelion across sectors including arts, events, agriculture, education, and community. This included commissions and contracts for 287 artists, cross-sector paid opportunities for students including the ‘Tattie Team’ - 33 students from Scotland’s Rural College who delivered over 7000 hours of work in the community via paid roles, and creative opportunities including 12 Emerging Creative Producers, 18 Musicians-in-Residence, and three Ethnologists.
As this initial season draws to a close, Dandelion now looks to the future, shaping plans to deliver parts of the programme beyond 2022 including supporting Unexpected Gardens and schools to continue creatively sowing, growing and sharing across future seasons, building on the work that has been established this year.