GAELIC rockers, Runrig, currently riding high at number nine in the UK singles charts, have helped an island arts centre receive a highly-prized tourism award.
An exhibition about the Hebridean band has catapulted the gallery and community centre on North Uist to scoop a top marketing award at the north of Scotland’s premier tourism awards in Inverness last Friday.
The honour has capped a fantastic few days for Runrig which has seen them take centre stage at the Children in Need fundraiser in Scotland and jump into the Top Ten with their tribute to Scotland’s soccer team’s bid for European glory.
It was the exhibition, Coming Home about Runrig, which began life on Skye in 1975, that brought the marketing honour home to the small but busy Taigh Chearsabhagh centre in Lochmaddy.
At the ceremony to mark the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, where many of the leading lights of the country’s industry were present, the coveted award for Marketing Initiative went to Taigh Chearsabhagh.
Coming Home displays some of the materials relating to the success of the band and making them accessible to the public. Two of the band, Rory and Calum MacDonald, originally from Lochmaddy, opened the exhibition in June.
Now back at work after the glitzy bash, manager, Norman Macleod, said that the exhibition dedicated to Runrig, and runs till the end of the year was an almighty hit with the judges – and with visitors to North Uist. He said: “Recognition like this shows what can be done from a small root. It is long overdue.”
The secret, according to Norman, was down to keeping their feet on the ground.
“Runrig is only 32 years-old so the exhibition is quite contemporary but it presses all the right buttons. There are three strands to the marketing. The Runrig exhibition itself is at the centre but, afterwards, the archive and photos will be based here. It should all be documented from the end of the year and on show from the spring.”
As well as the exhibition and archive dedicated to the much-travelled rockers, visitors will soon get a taste of what Runrig actually do when the local history society based at Taigh Chearsabhagh put up the lyrics of Runrig’s songs in the waiting room at the nearby Lochmaddy ferry terminal.
Taking the marketing message out into the local community is a novel approach to any exhibition.
Norman says: “It is simple. Just common sense.”
Paying tribute to the stiff competition that the arts centre faced at the awards, he thought the Forge Inn in Knoydart was also a very go-ahead business. Norman and his colleagues are now keeping their fingers crossed for improved visitor numbers as they wait to see what the impact will be when the centre becomes the home of the official Runrig archive.
Rory Macdonald of Runrig said he was absolutely delighted for Norman and the staff at Taigh Chearsabhagh. He added: “Their hard work, commitment and belief in this project has resulted in the award coming to Uist. They richly deserve this achievement.”
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