THE THIRD ANNUAL Culture Day festival in Moray attracted around 3500 visitors to Forres and the surrounding area when it was held in September last year.
Festival organisers Findhorn Bay Arts have released the results of an evaluation of the event that shows that it drew both bumper crowds and gave the local economy a substantial boost.
A total of 7310 people attended the individual activities that made up the festival, with the majority coming from the local area – but many were drawn to the region from as far afield as Carrbridge, Tain and Glasgow.
The figures show that Culture Day has seen an increasing number of visitors from further afield attending events each year it has been held, with event curator Kresanna Aigner commenting: “We are absolutely delighted about how the day went and to find that yet again attendance numbers have grown.
“Culture Day is bringing new people to Forres and helping place the area firmly on the visitor map as a go to arts and cultural destination.”
The evaluation has shown that 93% say they would return to future festivals – while 91% said that they had become more aware of local arts, culture and community activities as a result of their attending.
Outreach & Education Coordinator Gill Bird said: “This feedback shows that Culture Day achieved its primary objective to raise awareness of our local cultural assets available to the local community and visitors throughout the year.
“Moray and the Forres area abound with fun creative activities all year round so it’s fantastic that we have been able to spread this word and encourage participation all year round from a wide demographic.”
Local groups have had boosted attendance with new members joining as a direct result of Culture Day, while a greater awareness of what is on offer at FAYZ and with T-Exchange were cited in visitor feedback. Visitors also learnt about new creative skills from Knockando Woolmill, Earthtime children’s nature activities and film making with Wildbird, amongst many others.
Along with the influx of visitors came an estimated local economic boost of £107k. “This substantial sum came from visitor and participant spend and the utilisation of funding money,” Kresanna explained, adding: “On Culture Day visitors and participants use local facilities, cafés and restaurants and browse the town centre shops.
“The money they spend helps boost the local economy through increased business takings. Events are essential in contributing to a sustainable local economy and this demonstrates the impact our events have locally – for a one-day event this is incredible!”
Findhorn Bay Arts secured funding totalling £37,000 to host Culture Day 2015 from Creative Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and the Moray Towns Partnership.
The funding was spent locally to hire community venues such as The Tolbooth and Town Hall, to pay for services from The Hub, design and printing from local professionals, provision for volunteers and for many other local facilities.
Kresanna concluded: “This year Culture Day Forres was produced on a shoestring budget and made possible with support from volunteers and in kind contributions from local business and groups too. It is our aspiration to produce Culture Day as an annual free event – to continue to achieve this we will need to secure funding and support from local sources.”
Culture Day Forres will return this year on Saturday 24 September as part of the Findhorn Bay Festival, pending funding to be announced April.
It is planned that this year The Findhorn Bay Festival is a spectacular six-day celebration of arts and culture, celebrating Moray’s contribution to architecture, innovation and design taking place from September 21 to 26.
To find out more about how you can get involved please visit www.findhornabayarts.com