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Article published 16/11/2022

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.

The Dandelion programme ran from spring to autumn 2022

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. 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.

People eating around a communal table

As its six-month season concludes, 1,056 events took place across the programme, at 556 locations, delivered by the Dandelion team and partner organisations in communities across the country. Dandelion created a unique programme by bringing together artists and musicians with scientists and horticulturalists, which culminated in 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 celebration of people and planet and opportunity to inspire positive social change.

Bringing music, art and growing together across Scotland

Central to Dandelion was the creation of 12 "Unexpected Gardens" on previously unused or underused land, creating growing spaces at the heart of communities, delivered in partnership with local organisations. A "Floating Garden" comprising three vessels, toured the Forth and Clyde canals throughout the summer. In total, the gardens presented 482 free events and activities, programmed by Dandelion’s 11 Emerging Creative Producers and supported by 18 Musicians-in-Residence. 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 across 20 locations.

Woman looking at plants in illuminated boxes

Dandelion’s "Cubes of Perpetual Light" - accelerated growing environments for plants - were experienced by visitors across the country. The first brought cubes together to create striking music and mesmeric light installations featuring 13 new music commissions from leading musicians including SAY Award-winner Fergus McCreadie, Grammy award-winning Arooj Aftab, Maya Youssef and Glasgow-born composer Craig Armstrong. The installations visited sites including the Scottish Parliament’s Festival of Politics, Edinburgh International Culture Summit, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Inverness Botanic Gardens, Kelburn Garden Party, and V&A Dundee. Special cargo bikes carrying individual cubes also toured Scotland, introducing Dandelion to communities and sparking conversations about how our food is grown. In total, over 96,000 people experienced the cubes at 17 locations.

Two free, three-day Dandelion Festivals, programmed in association with Celtic Connections, took place in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park and Inverness’ Northern Meeting Park. Almost 67,000 audience members attended the festivals, which featured performances from Scottish and International artists including Del Amitri, King Creosote, Les Amazones d’Afrique, Karine Polwart, Newton Faulkner and many more. The festivals also featured talks, workshops, schools activities and a creative programme inspired by sustainability and climate action.

Empowering the next generation

Children at a harvest festival

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. Pupils planted their own crop, which included sowing 258,000 potatoes in 2,000 tonnes of specially made growing mix, while also learning about cutting-edge methods of growing with 131 Dandelion growing cubes gifted to schools and education establishments. 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.

Creating opportunities across Scotland

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.

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.

Looking to the future

Dandelion now looks to the future, shaping plans to deliver elements 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.

We’re proud of what has been achieved in this first season of Dandelion, its reach and the connections made with people across Scotland. Dandelion has been an immense undertaking, involving hundreds of people and partners. Our aim was to spread the funding as widely as possible, and we have been lifted by the generous public reaction and level of engagement. In difficult and uncertain times, the act of growing and sharing food, ideas, music and cultures has resonated with people across Scotland.

Dandelion Directors Neil Butler, Fiona Dalgetty, Angus Farquhar, Jenny Howard-Coombes and Donald Shaw

I’m delighted to see that so many people have engaged with the variety of Dandelion events and activities on offer across Scotland this year. Alongside the high levels of participation, this ambitious and creative programme will encourage communities to continue to harvest the benefits of what they have sown for years to come.

Culture Minister Neil Gray

Dandelion has been an incredibly diverse and exciting addition to Scotland’s events landscape this year, fusing ideas and imagination from right across the creative spectrum. With events and engagement opportunities taking place all over the country, its programme has been an invitation for communities to come together, sharing food, music and ideas in both traditional and innovative ways. It’s been wonderful to support such a unique programme that has inspired hundreds of thousands of people across Scotland to think positively about how we can all play our part in shaping a sustainable future.

Marie Christie, Head of Development, Events Industry at VisitScotland

Dandelion brought growing, science, art and community together for a truly inspirational project that not only captured people's imaginations but provided free opportunities right across Scotland for people to come together. Like many UNBOXED projects, Dandelion created a space to explore through creativity, what a more sustainable future might look like. With so many young people getting involved, I’m sure it has inspired a generation to continue their community growing for years to come.

Phil Batty, Executive Director at UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK

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