Media release: XpoNorth gets down to creative business


FROM giving birth to a book, to building a business on Instagram, to surfing in a gaming and technology playground, conversing with an Oscar-nominated film director to finding out what links Harris Tweed Authority and retail design giant, Alessi… it’s all in a day’s work for delegates at XpoNorth, one of Scotland’s leading creative industries conferences and showcases.

XpoNorth takes place this year at Eden Court Theatre and venues throughout Inverness on Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th June.

At this inspiring event, which sees international industry insiders meet, mix and mingle with aspiring musicians, filmmakers, designers, makers, game developers, writers and publishers, creative connections are made at every turn.

XpoNorth, which is free to attend, is funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Creative Scotland.

This year, the festival, which began as a small fringe music industry event 17 years ago with around 100 attendees, is expected to attract more than 2,000 delegates as it showcases Scotland’s creative industries to the world.

Showcasing and training creative talent from the Highlands and Islands and beyond lies at the heart of XpoNorth.

The festival’s live television station, XpoNorth Live! will be training up the next generation of television production professionals under the expert eye of seasoned director, Alan de Pellette, who was behind the creation of BBC Radio Scotland’s Off the Ball and hit BBC comedy, Still Game.

XpoNorth Live! presenter, Siobhan Synnot, will interview speakers and delegates while bands play live sets in Eden Court’s Stalls Foyer and Newsbar area. XpoNorth Live! will also be hosting a live recording of The Vic Galloway Show with BBC Introducing. 

Delegates can get up close and personal with industry insiders at special one-to-one meetings and hear from Instagram ‘superstar’ Zoe Timmers, who has 84.2k followers on the social media site posting as @zobolondon, How Building your Instagram Portfolio Can grow Your Creative Business.

This year, XpoNorth’s famous Music Showcase will see over 80 emerging acts play for delegates at venues throughout the city. Among them will be rising star, Tamzene, a 20 year-old student from Cromarty on the Black Isle, who has only recently returned from LA, where she played in front of some of the world’s top music industry leaders in A&R and management.

Some of the top names who work behind-the-scenes in the music industry on a global scale will also be present.

New York-based Josh Rabinowitz, a producer whose Grey Music Seminar at the Cannes Lions International Festival has featured the likes of Tony Bennett, E Street Band, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Courtney Love, will join M&C Saatchi Sponsorship’s co-founder and chief executive, Victor Cobos, for a special session on The Growing Importance of Brands in Today’s Creative Industries.

Unsigned bands will also be pinning their hopes on XpoNorth’s new A&R Listening Room which will put ‘Your Songs in the Spotlight’ in front of international industry insiders such as Steve Celi from FOX Broadcasting and Sat Bisla, who runs the influential LA-based music industry conference, MUSEXPO.

Also new for 2017, are two special late-night Stand-up Comedy sessions hosted by Bruce Devlin.

XpoNorth’s prestigious curated Film Showcase will be back at Eden Court, featuring work by filmmakers from the Highlands and Islands and beyond.

Organisers received 3,000 entries from 112 countries across the world and have programmed 47 films to screen in Eden Court’s Playhouse cinema on both days, while 26 short films will be screened at the start of every session of the conference.

There will also be a curated programme from the Screen Academy Scotland the BFI Highland Film Academy with Q&A with local young talent.

Two documentary filmmakers from the Highlands, David Graham Scott, from Caithness, and Tristan Aitchison, who lives on the Black Isle, will see special screenings of their films, The End of the Game and Sidney & Friends.

Film lovers will be drawn to a special in-conversation with Michael Radford, the Oscar-nominated writer/director (Nineteen Eighty-Four, Il Postino, The Merchant of Venice), ahead of the launch of his latest film, The Music of Silence, a ‘biopic’ of tenor Andrea Bocelli.

XpoNorth’s craft, fashion and textiles network, which has a proven track record supporting designers operating in often remote communities, will showcase SHIFT, an international collaboration with Iceland, bringing together a diverse group of Highlands and Islands and Icelandic designers and makers to talk, explore collaborate and inspire one another.

The showcase is curated by ilka North, a group of designers, visual artists, curators, writers and creative thinkers all based in the Highlands.

Aspiring writers will be pitching their fiction and non-fiction book ideas in trepidation to a panel of leading publishers and agents. Last year, one of the pitchers, Iain Hector Ross, had his forthcoming publication The Whisky Dictionary, was picked up by Dingwall-based Sandstone Press so there’s a lot at stake.

The Power of Provenance is put under the spotlight at a special in-conversation session featuring Matteo Alessi of Italian design house, Alessi, and Lorna Macaulay, chief executive of the Harris Tweed Authority. 

This special event will be chaired by Don McIntyre, design director at the Glasgow School of Art’s Institute of Design Innovation.

Donna Chisholm, regional head of Sectors, Innovation and Programmes with Highlands and Islands Enterprise said: “XpoNorth is now firmly established at Scotland’s leading creative industries conference and showcase, and we are delighted to be supporting the event as an international platform for creative talent.

“The two days provide an excellent opportunity for business people in the Highlands and Islands to meet other creative people as well as hear from a range of globally renowned experts in each creative field.

“Many people who showcase go on to become successful after attending the event. It’s fantastic to have speakers and delegates from all over the world of such high calibre here to share their expertise.

“The conference is flourishing and reflects the success of the Creative Industries in Scotland.”

XpoNorth director, Amanda Millen, said: “In the ten years I have been involved, XpoNorth has grown from a small niche music industry festival into a wide-reaching conference and showcase which brings together a host of elements under one creative umbrella.

“There are a lot of key creative industries influencers who attend and creative connections are forged every minute of the day during the course of the two days.

“There really isn’t anything else like it in Scotland.”


Notes for editors:

XpoNorth is a two-day conference and showcase devoted to the creative industries. 

It’s based in Inverness and for two jam-packed days and music-filled nights in June, hundreds of delegates come from all over Britain and further afield to meet, greet, listen, participate and share ideas in the fields of music, screen, broadcast, gaming, design, fashion, textiles, writing and publishing.

XpoNorth also has a year-round brief from funders, Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to support and develop creative businesses by providing practical assistance and networking opportunities.

The only event of its kind in Scotland devoted to craft, textiles, fashion, games development, writing, publishing, screen and broadcast, design and music, XpoNorth is attended by leading creative industry insiders, who take part in workshops, panels and masterclass sessions over the course of both days.

XpoNorth networks:

XpoNorth Screen and Broadcast
ScreenHI is XpoNorth’s screen and broadcast network. Led by former BBC producer, Amanda Millen, it operates all year round and supports businesses and individuals working in film, television, radio, animation and video games across the Highlands and Islands.

XpoNorth Music
Led by Alex Smith, XpoNorth Music is the industry network established to support the development of musicians and music businesses across the Highlands and Islands.

XpoNorth Design
Established to support the flourishing design community in the Highlands and Islands. Hosted by the Creative Futures Partnership, a collaboration between The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and HIE. Led by the Institute of Design Innovation (InDI), a research institute based in Forres, Moray, within the GSA.

XpoNorth Writing and Publishing
The sector head of Emergents Writers is Peter Urpeth. His role is to nurture creative talent in the field of writing and publishing across the Highlands and Islands.

XpoNorth Craft, Fashion and Textiles
The sector head of Emergents Makers is Pamela Conacher, who leads a team which provides a programme of advice, training and support for the craft, fashion and textile sector in the Highlands and Islands.

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