Not a week goes past without a row about arts funding finding its way into our newsfeeds and timelines. This is nothing new. Arts organisations have long had to fight for an increasingly shrinking piece of the funding pie. In Scotland, bodies like Creative Scotland and the National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland regularly cut their cloth as cuts bite within their own funding streams.

Recently, the National Galleries of Scotland announced it would be putting an end to its association with BP, stating that the oil and gas giant's backing of its annual portrait awards was "at odds' with tackling climate change.

Meanwhile, in Aberdeen, a city embedded in the oil and gas sector, a more pragmatic approach was taken when Aberdeen City Council, which received £1 million from the oil giant to fund new exhibition spaces in the refurbished Aberdeen Art Gallery, confirmed recently it will host the BP Portrait Award exhibition as planned between October 2020 and January 2021.

But as the pot of money shrinks from arts funders like Creative Scotland, what do smaller arts organisations do when it comes to creating a hub that forms an important resource in a community? As Creative Stirling director, Joe Hall, states towards the end of a charmingly homemade video posted on the arts organisation's Facebook page, "Funding in the arts is complicated." Ain't that the truth?

Creative Stirling is a case in point which highlights the power of artists and makers coming together to do it for themselves; a trend which, thanks to the power of social media networks, is starting to bite in communities around the country.

In the last year, Creative Stirling’s hub in a former women's fashion store at 44 King Street in the town centre, has becoming a magnet for artists, makers and performers; contributing some £250,000 to the local economy during this period.

The hub consists of a community facility with a gallery, event space and Made in Stirling, store selling original artworks by 100 local artists and makers.

Not for this organisation's directors the dilemma of having to deal with funding from fossil fuel multi-nationals. Extinction Rebellion events have taken place in the store as part of a packed programme which has included demonstrations by Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars special effects model maker, Johann Domingo, as well as authors, Lesley Riddoch and Janice Galloway.

In the first year of operations at the hub, the Made in Stirling store managed by Paul Jenkins, a successful designer in his own right, contributed a quarter of a million pounds to Stirling’s economy.

Of this, £155,000 went directly into artists’ pockets. Creative Stirling is a charity and reinvests its profits back into the hub’s activities, creating jobs and another much-needed vibrant cultural focal point in Stirling. The once empty store fronts around 44 King Street are now finding tenants and this is no coincidence.

Faced by challenges when it came to traditional funding, Creative Stirling is now bidding to raise £50,000 to become what Hall describes as a "sustainable world-class centre which will create investment and jobs."

Backed by a groundswell of local support from creatives in the area, more than a hundred artists have launched the crowdfunder to sustain a creative hub for Central Scotland.

So far, artists and supporters have donated £40,000 worth of artworks and experiences to the campaign in return for pledges. They range from a week-long luxury creative retreat in the Highlands at £1700 to original hand-made stocking filler gifts for £10.

Creative Stirling founder and director, Hall explained: “It’s not just been an economic success, the cultural and social impact of the new King Street creative space has been significant and exceeded all expectation.

“We have scaled up to create new business with a workshop and gallery space and as funding isn’t forthcoming at the moment, we have to do what we can to make sure we can keep going. It’s demonstrating the fantastic entrepreneurial spirit that’s driving our collective and the support in our community.

“The decision was made to crowdfund as there are so many urgent priorities for the public purse, as we know, so investment is incredibly hard to find for projects like ours, that defy an easy categorisation.

“We decided that it was time to shout about what we do a bit more and also to make people aware that we aren’t getting any form of consistent public funds."

So far, the Stirling hub has garnered the support of locals, visitors to the City and dignatories. When First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, dropped in last month the planned 20-minute visit turned into one hour and 20 minutes.

Creative Stirling co-director Ailsa Gray’s father, Bill Gray, was one of the driving forces behind Glasgow's famous Third Eye Centre, which from the mid-1970s, hosted the likes of Miles Davies and Allen Ginsberg and showcased the talents of artists such as Joan Eardley, George Wyllie, Peter Howson and Steven Campbell.

Funding models have changed out of all recognition since the 1970s, but the creative energy generated by artists banding together and doing it for themselves is still a force to be reckoned with according to Gray.

“In the beginning," she says, "the Third Eye Centre received premises and financial support from Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Arts Council worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Such contribution was at the time described as "modest".

"Unfortunately, in this case, support has not translated into financial support and Creative Stirling has been the wrong type of charity, the wrong enterprise for Business Gateway, the wrong risk profile for Social Investment Scotland, on the wrong high street for the Town Centre Regeneration fund and the wrong arts initiative for Creative Scotland. It is incredible that the doors have remained open with so little investment.

“The lack of support has been frustrating, but with a modest amount of financial support now, there is a very real opportunity that the Creative Stirling hub will become completely self-sustaining within a matter of years.”

So. If you are looking to spend some money on artwork this Christmas, look beyond the multi-nationals and seek out the Made in Stirlings of this world. Every little helps build a thriving creative community.

Made in Stirling, 44 King Street, Stirling, FK8 1AY, 01786 357550, & open daily. Check website for festive opening times.

Critic's Choice

The Glad Café, a non-profit art and music organisation on Glasgow's south side, has been a lively addition to the local community since it was established in 2012. Its latest fundraiser is Glad Editions; a series of limited edition prints created by a group of internationally-respected artists who live locally. The prints, produced at Glasgow Print Studio and The Passenger Press, are limited to an edition of 30, and available to buy as signed individual prints and boxed sets. Contributing artists include previous Turner Prize nominees Monster Chetwynd and Cathy Wilkes, as well as works by award-winning musicians such as Kathryn Joseph and Tommy Grace of Django Django. All the artists have a strong relationship to the area. Rabiya Choudhry grew up there. Others are based nearby, including 93-year-old Norman Gilbert who has been featured several times on these pages and on a BBC Scotland short film, The Unteachable Artist, which went viral when it was posted on social media. All profits made will be channeled into The Glad Foundation, which provides music lessons and creative activities for children and others who might otherwise have difficulty in accessing such experiences. The individual prints sell for £100 each and a full set of all ten prints costs £850. The prints are on display throughout December at The Glad Cafe but can be purchased during office hours at the cafe or online.

The Glad Cafe,1006A Pollokshaws Rd, Glasgow G41 2HG, 0141 636 6119,

Don't Miss

The fabulous Linda McCartney retrospective has been running at Glasgow's Kelvingrove since the summer. If you haven't seen this comprehensive survey of McCartney's photography, then make a date in the diary to go before it closes on January 12. McCartney had a life before she met her husband Paul in May 1967 at a Georgie Fame concert in London. Contrary to urban myth, she was not a member of the Eastman dynasty, which owned the film company, Kodak, but she was the first female photographer to have her work featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with a portrait of Eric Clapton.

Linda liked to catch her subjects off guard and what comes across most strongly in this exhibition is that she was possessed of a lively creative spirit and an innate warmth. These qualities married up with a keen eye led to a harmonious body of work which sings of a life well-lived.

The Linda McCartney Retrospective, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8AG, 0141 276 9599, Until Jan 12, 2020. Mon-Thur & Sat, 10am-5pm; Fri & Sun,11am-5pm. £7/£5