The first ever Findhorn Bay Arts Festival last September has been hailed as a major success having attracted over 12,000 spectators and boosted the local economy by £648,600.
Figures emerged this week highlighting the success of the Festival which featured 65 events over the five days between September 24 and 28.
An economic impact assessment was conducted by the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business on behalf of Homecoming Scotland 2014.
That demonstrated the Festival had received strong local support with 56% of the audience being drawn from Moray, while a further 39% attending came from other parts of the UK. The study indicated that visitors spent £400,000 – with £270,000 of that spent directly in Moray. A further 5% attending came from outwith the UK
Volunteers were vital to the success of the event and for the first Festival these included troops from 39 Engineers Regiment at Kinloss Barracks and students from Moray College UHI.
Local schools were also involved with 97 secondary schools pupils attending performances of Macbeth the Remix while a further 420 primary school children took part in Macbeth and All That with Allan Burnett, and the Walking Theatre Company’s unique production of Macbeth.
As part of the Year of Homecoming, the Festival sought to bring Macbeth home to Moray, with a programme of events about both the real king and Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It also provided an opportunity for many renowned artists from the area to return home to Moray, including legendary fiddle player Charlie McKerron, unique traditional dance band Shooglenifty, plus award-winning fine-artist Owen Normand.
Caroline Packman, Homecoming Scotland 2014 Director, said: “The Findhorn Bay Arts Festival 2014 placed the spotlight on Moray and captured the true spirit of the Year of Homecoming by celebrating art, culture and our heritage in a creative, dynamic and inclusive way.
“We were delighted to provide funding support to boost increased marketing and to also help stage the memorable performance of Macbeth at Brodie Castle. The Festival had a wonderful community spirit and offered something for everyone – here’s to many more!”
David Taylor, Portfolio Manager Special Projects at Creative Scotland added: “The first Findhorn Bay Arts Festival gave the people of Moray the chance to see high quality work from the area and across Scotland.
“The event was an essential component in the overall programme to celebrate Scotland’s Homecoming in 2014. The team at Findhorn Bay Arts deserve a huge round of applause for pulling off a fantastic first festival.”
A highlight of the Festival was Culture Day, a free family-focused event which saw Forres town centre come alive with a mix of have-a-go taster sessions, exhibitions, performances and street entertainment.
Findhorn Bay Arts hope to make this an annual event and are currently working towards Culture Day 2015, which, pending funding, is scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 26.
Kresanna Aigner, Director of Findhorn Bay Arts said: “It has been an incredible year for us – extraordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things.
“The Arts Festival gave the local community and beyond a chance to see, take part in and engage with high quality arts experiences, placing local talent and Homecoming Scotland at the centre of our programme.”
The next biennial Findhorn Bay Arts Festival will take place on the last long weekend in September 2016.