Media Release: Old maps and new – Highlands and Islands culture and the economy

A HIGHLANDS and Islands Enterprise (HIE)/Creative Scotland conference, celebrating the last and the next 20 years of communities and culture in the Highlands and Islands, is to be held in Inverness in November.

Begins a spokesperson: “In 1991 the newly-formed HIE organised a ground-breaking conference on the Social and Economic Impact of the Arts in the Highlands and Islands. Almost two decades on, and following the agenda that emerged at that conference, the cultural landscape of the area has grown beyond recognition.”

Chris Higgins, head of culture and the third sector at HIE, commented: “Much has changed in the 20 years since HIE organised its first conference to explore the social and economic importance of the arts to the region.

“Many parts of the Highlands and Islands now have access to levels of cultural and artistic provision undreamt of in 1991.

“Artists and cultural companies from the area are achieving national and international success. A report discussed then indicated that £1.34 million was generated by visitors to cultural events. Visitor expenditure for Highland 2007 was £6.1 million.”

He added: “Faced with the prospect of shrinking resources we must nurture social entrepreneurship and look innovatively at models to grow creative activity in our communities. Bringing together the people involved in the sector will let us ask what the creative and cultural landscape of the Highlands and Islands will look like in 2020.”

The title of the upcoming conference to be held on November 13 and 14 is ‘Old Maps and New’, the title of a Norman MacCaig poem.

The event coincides with the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great Scottish poet whose heartland is acknowledged to be Assynt, in North West Sutherland. Included in the programme will be events to mark this centenary, organised in association with the Poetry Library in Edinburgh and Top Left Corner, the literature organisation based in Assynt.

Adds the spokesperson: “The establishment of Creative Scotland as the leading cultural agency for Scotland now offers an ideal opportunity to look to the future.”

Andrew Dixon, chief executive of Creative Scotland, will be a keynote speaker at the event.

He commented: “The value of culture and creativity to Scotland’s communities cannot be underestimated and developments in the Highlands and Islands have shown it adds socially, culturally and economically to the region.

“Creative Scotland will play a role in investing in ‘places’ around Scotland and I welcome the chance to be part of this future look at the cultural and creative strengths and sustainable models of development for the Highlands and Islands.”

The conference programme will combine presentations, case studies, commissioned papers, debates and panel discussions. As well as Mr Dixon, speakers will include Willy Roe, chair of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Seona Reid, director of Glasgow School of Art, who was a speaker at the original 1991 conference in her then role as director of the Scottish Arts Council.

November 2010 also marks the 20th anniversary of HI~Arts, the arts development agency for the Highlands and Islands, which was originally established by HIE, and whose early work was closely guided by the outcomes of the 1991 conference. HI~Arts is acting as coordinator of this event on behalf of HIE.

Booking for the conference will open on 30th August, when a fuller programme will be available. To receive details of these booking arrangements, please e-mail putting ‘conference’ in the subject line.


Notes to editor

‘Old Maps and New – Where culture and social enterprise meet’ will be held on November 12/13, 2010 at the Centre for Health Science, Inverness.

About HIE

HIE’s role is to develop sustainable economic growth across the region. To achieve this it creates infrastructure for future investment, assists large and small businesses with growth aspirations and has a unique role strengthening communities, particularly in fragile areas.

HIE supports the growth ambitions of business and social enterprise clients by creating close working relationships in order to accelerate growth in turnover, profitability, wage levels, exports and therefore Gross Value Added (GVA) in the HIE area.

HIE also invests in transformational projects across the region to make the Highlands and Islands a more competitive and attractive place to live, work, study and grow.

The region covered by HIE takes in more than half of Scotland, and is home to around 440,000 people. See for more information.

About Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the new national leader for Scotland’s arts, screen and creative industries. It’s our job to help Scotland’s creativity shine at home and abroad.

We will invest in talented people and exciting ideas, develop the creative industries and champion everything that’s good about Scottish creativity.

Creative Scotland will:

* Take a holistic look at the contribution arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland play in the quality of life and economy of Scotland invest in ideas invest in talent invest in education invest in places work with independent organisations throughout Scotland to ensure that as many people as possible enjoy access to the best of Scotland’s creativity.

* Provide research, intelligence and advocacy to the creative sector and use our knowledge, skills and experience to create growth in the creative and cultural economy.

* Continue the work of the Scottish Arts Council in investing in the foundations of our cultural production in Scotland – for example, galleries, theatres, festivals and touring groups and strategic national initiatives such as the Youth Music Initiative.

* Continue the work of Scottish Screen in investing in talent development programmes, content development and production, audience and market development and moving image education.

* Lead the coordination of Scotland’s Creative Industries Partnership, which includes Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and COSLA, seeking to grow the sector in Scotland and internationally.

Our commitment to the Gaelic language

Bòrd na Gàidhlig has been charged with identifying public authorities which must develop Gaelic Language Plans. These organisations are integral to public life in Scotland and have a key role to play in the development of Gaelic. These plans will reflect the aspirations of the National Plan for Gaelic, and will mean that Gaelic users can access some public services in their language of choice. Creative Scotland is committed to drafting a Gaelic language plan for Spring 2011.

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Contact: Lesley Gallagher
Phone: 01463 244244