Programme unveiled for Year of Creative Scotland

Andrew Dixon from Creative Scotland with Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and artist Murray Robertson Artist Murray Robertson (on the right) has designed a special map representing Scotland as a creative nation

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A year-long programme of events, activities and festivals aimed at promoting Scotland's creativity will begin on Hogmanay.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has revealed details of the Year of Creative Scotland 2012.

The initiative will involve the creative, tourism and events sectors and will showcase Scottish culture.

A shortlist of smaller communities will compete to win Creative Place Awards to help them boost cultural projects.

A special map representing Scotland as a creative nation has been designed by artist Murray Robertson and was unveiled to coincide with the launch of the Year of Creative Scotland 2012 programme details.

Creative Scotland will invest £6.5m of lottery cash in the initiative.

The Scottish Artists Union (SAU) welcomed the launch of the Year of Creative Scotland but warned that lottery funding should not be used to "plug gaps" left by cuts to local artistic and cultural services.

RockNess Express

Ms Hyslop said: "Scotland is a dynamic and creative nation, rich in heritage with a wealth of world-class cultural events.

"The Year of Creative Scotland 2012 will be a spectacular celebration of our nation's culture and creativity on both the international stage and across our communities.

"It will continue to build on the success of Homecoming 2009 as we journey towards a second year of Homecoming in 2014 - when Scotland hosts the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup."

The Year of Creative Scotland also aims to build on the success of existing events, including the Edinburgh Festivals, and complement other events such as the London Olympics.

It will begin with the Hogmanay fireworks display in the capital and will continue until 31 December 2012.

Highlights of the programme include:

  • A celebration of contemporary Scottish printmaking held at Traquair House in the Scottish Borders between July and September 2012.
  • Spectacular building-sized dynamic projections on the streets of Edinburgh in 2012, organised by The City of Literature Trust, through their enLIGHTen project.
  • A bespoke train service to the annual Rock Ness festival from Kings Cross station in London, known as the RockNess Express, featuring on-board music and the best of Scottish food and drink.
  • Scotland's largest traditional music festival, Celtic Connections, will head to Chicago in September 2012, as the Ryder Cup takes place at the nearby Medinah Country Club. The trip will be an opportunity to showcase the best of Scottish music and attract international visitors to Celtic Connections 2013.

As she launched the programme, the culture secretary also revealed the shortlists for the Creative Place Awards which aim to celebrate the value of creativity to the social and economic wellbeing of smaller communities across Scotland.


Six and a half million pounds is not to be sniffed at, particularly in the current climate. And there are some interesting words of encouragement - not to mention cheques being waved - in the detail of the 2012 Year of Creative Scotland.

But the Scottish Artists Union is right to have its reservations about this latest themed year, bookended by the first year of Homecoming in 2009 and the second year of Homecoming in 2014.

Much of the activity is taking place already. Hogmanay celebrations are being extended, elements of Celtic Connections taken to Chicago and a train laid on for revellers to travel to Rock Ness (live entertainment and traditional food and drink marking it out from the normal late night commute from Glasgow to Edinburgh).

New money is available for the most creative towns - Creetown, Wigtown and Prestonpans are all in the running - but like Homecoming, the emphasis is on promoting what already exists, packaging Scottish culture for tourists, and for those who might not realise what's happening on their own doorsteps.

None of which is a bad thing. But in a climate where many organisations are struggling just to find day-to-day funding, when Creative Scotland (the funding body, rather than the festival, a title ripe for confusion) is shaking up its own funding arrangements for the visual arts and many can't plan past springtime, it's a worrying time.

When the bulk of lottery money is allocated to the Olympics - and what's left for the arts has to be themed around the Olympics, arts organisations are bound to be concerned.

Artists have shown great imagination - and some of the projects are genuinely ambitious. But they're being created or adapted for a themed festival - so artists hardly have free rein.

And as the Scottish Artists Union point out, it's the infrastructure that requires attention - and using lottery funding for one-off events to plug the gaps doesn't help the situation.

Andrew Dixon, Creative Scotland's director, is determined to bring more funding into the cultural sector and events like this only help raise the profile of Scottish culture. But like Homecoming, it's a very prescriptive view of Scottish culture which won't appeal to everyone.

There are three award categories with three nominees in each.

For places with under 2,500 residents, the nominees are Creetown, Kilmartin Glen, and Wigtown.

Creetown would use the award to invite the National Symphony Orchestra to music workshops in the village.

Kilmartin Glen would support Kilmartin House Museum to develop Sounding Dunadd, a community performance on the ancient site of Dunadd Fort, while Wigton would use the award to build on the success of its book festival, making it into more of a year-round event.

Huntly, Prestonpans and West Kilbride are competing in the places with under 10,000 residents category.

Huntly wants to expand its Room to Roam programme and develop a signature menu for the town, while Prestonpans wants to extend its Prestongrange Arts Festival.

In West Kilbride, Craft Town Scotland would use the award to develop a new series of exhibitions for the Barony Centre.

In the final category, for places with under 100,000 residents, Irvine is competing with Perth and St Andrews.

Irvine Harbourside would use a Creative Place Award to develop a year-round cultural programme, while in Perth the local Cultural Partnership wants to build on its Living Communities project and identify a local hero for a commissioned portrait.

St Andrews will be the official host for the Year of Celebration and a Creative Place Award would focus on the town's rich cultural programme, and help support new events.

The category winners will be announced at a ceremony in January.

More investment

Andrew Dixon, chief executive of Creative Scotland said: "The Year of Creative Scotland 2012 is a unique opportunity to celebrate the huge strength of Scotland as a creative nation.

"Scotland's talent reaches into every home and in the next year will play out on an international stage."

Mike Cantlay, from VisitScotland, said: "The Year of Creative Scotland is a chance to spotlight, celebrate and promote Scotland's cultural and creative strengths on a world stage by encouraging the cultural and tourism sectors to work in closer partnership to enhance cultural tourism in Scotland.

"It marks the beginning of an exciting programme that will embrace London 2012 and celebrate Glasgow 2014 - as well as generate real momentum towards Homecoming 2014."

Rowena Comrie, president of the SAU, said she would like to see more investment in arts infrastructure and local authorities.

She added: "The Year of Culture is promoting some strong projects, and we support this.

"However, the good news should not distract from the serious cuts that are affecting artists across the board.

"We question the wisdom of using lottery funding to plug gaps left by cuts in funding to local authorities. The local infrastructure must be sustained for cultural activity to continue to feed the economy."

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