Media Release: Programme launched for major cultural conference

THE programme is being launched today for a major cultural conference being held in the Highlands and Islands which hopes to attract a worldwide audience.

Over 100 delegates will be able to attend ‘Old Maps and New: Where Culture and Social Enterprise Meet‘ in Inverness in November.

It will be also be webcast live, allowing additional groups and organisations to tune in to the presentations and discussions, and to contribute their own questions and comments during the event.  The conference proceedings will also be available afterwards for streaming from a range of websites.

The event is being jointly presented by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Creative Scotland, and is being organised by HI~Arts. It will be held at the Centre for Health Sciences in Inverness on November 12 and 13.

It will bring together the many different organisations and individuals in the sector to look at what models of working will allow cultural community growth to continue despite challenges in public sector funding.

The programme launched today reveals that the conference will highlight the experiences of innovative groups from across the region.

This will include the work of the St Magnus Festival in Orkney, Taigh Chearsabhagh Arts Centre in North Uist, Shetland Arts and Timespan in East Sutherland.

The recently appointed National Gaelic Arts officer, Brian O hEadhra, will talk about his remit, while HI~Arts director, Robert Livingston, will reflect on the changes in the cultural landscape of the Highlands and Islands since the first major cultural conference in the area, in 1991.

Keynote speakers will be Willy Roe, chair of HIE; Seona Reid, director of Glasgow School of Art and previously director of the Scottish Arts Council; Andrew Dixon, chief executive of Creative Scotland, and Neil MacLean, director of the Social Enterprise Academy.

A panel drawn from national and regional agencies – Museums and Galleries Scotland, Creative Scotland, the Social Enterprise Academy, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and HISEZ, the Highlands and Islands Social Enterprise Zone, will consider the question ‘what do we do next?’

The conference is being held on the weekend of the centenary of the birth of the poet Norman MacCaig, and takes its title from one of his poems. There will be opportunities to reflect on his work during the conference, through links with Top Left Corner from Assynt, and the Scottish Poetry Library.

To lay the groundwork for the conference HI~Arts has commissioned an essay, Spaces to be Filled, from author and researcher François Matarasso, best known in the Highlands for his highly-influential study of the Fèisean movement, Use or Ornament.

Bookings are already going well for the conference, and the full programme, and François Matarasso’s essay, can be downloaded from


Note to editor:

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) delivers the Scottish Government’s economic strategy by supporting the sustainable growth of ambitious businesses and communities across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. You can visit our website at and follow us on Facebook at

HIE’s activities contribute to a comprehensive range of measures introduced across the public sector as part of the Scottish Government’s Economic Recovery Plan. For more information visit:

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