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There's something about Forres: Exploring this Creative Place

Forres - Photo: Paul Campbell

In the west of the Moray Speyside region, perched on the Bay of Findhorn, lies Forres: an area is know for its natural beauty, as well as an abundance of creative activity and cultural events. In 2015, this was recognised when Forres won a Creative Place Award.

Now, Findhorn Bay Arts has created a short film, which offers a glimpse of what makes Forres an inspiring year-round creative and cultural destination.

Featured in the video is work by the Moray Art CentreThe House of AutomataThe Falconer MuseumFindhorn PotteryLogie SteadingNaturally UsefulBrodie CastleUniversal Hall and more.

And while this lovely film offers a great taster into creative life in Forres, the work that is continuing to be done there as a result of the Creative Place Award is impressive. Here are some more ways that the award has impacted on the local community.

Culture Day Forres

Culture Day Forres in 2015 provided a unique opportunity for the public to discover the abundance of creative activity that takes place all year round. On the day, 120 local arts, culture, heritage and community organisations took part, with a total of 80 events packed into the programme. There was also four specially-commissioned pieces of work and 20 new showcase opportunities for local artists.

The event attracted over 3,500 visitors, and the sun shone as residents and visitors, who travelled from as far as Glasgow, Tain and Carrbridge to take part, enjoyed a variety of performances, talks, tours and have-a-go activities. Street performers and musicians added a splash of colour and character to the streets. Contributing an estimated £107,000 to the local economy, town centre businesses reported increased footfall of 30% and increased sales of 40%.

Performances also took place into Culture Night with Creative Café music and food events, along with the Artistic Upstarts evening cabaret extravaganza at the Town Hall. Culture Day returned in 2016, and a 2018 edition is already in the works for September.

Forres - Photo: Paul Campbell

Culture Cafe

The project supported six local Culture Café events across the area, which helped participants to build their networks and share knowledge and expertise. These engaging events saw 150 people from cultural, heritage, business, tourism, hospitality, health, education and community sectors take part.

At these events, creative practitioners were invited to talk about their work and opportunities available for fellow artists.

Project ARTS

The Project ARTS programme was established to encourage closer working practice between artists and businesses / community groups. A total of 16 projects took place over the two-year programme, engaging with over 900 participants from young toddlers to people over 80 years.

Projects included the installation of a large wooden xylophone at The Forres in Bloom Wee FIBees Garden, a monthly Dance Walk, creative workshops for young people and more.

Forres - Photo: Paul Campbell

Findhorn Bay Festival

The Findhorn Bay Festival 2016 was a spectacular six-day celebration of diverse arts and culture, supported by over 30 programming partners. Events included performances from the likes of Julie Fowlis and Duke Special, plus productions such as The Jungle Book by Indigo Moon Theatre, Scottish Opera's The Elixir of Love and Drift by Nordland Visual Theatre.

Overall, there were 13,659 attendances, attracting 23% of visitors from overseas. 1,145 school pupils were engaged with activities and 185 local artists contributed to events. It contributed £874,902 to the local economy, with an estimated national economic impact of £1.1million.

We're pleased to be funding this bienneal festival again in 2018 - stay tuned for more details.

So, what was the outcome?

Forres's creative life is ever-flourishing. In fact, the figures speak for themselves: audiences increased at Culture Day by 16% and at Findhorn Bay Festival by 7%. Volunteer and community participation at these events increased by 63% - and we could go on.

All this stands to reason that, without doubt, there's something about Forres.

Images: Findhorn Bay Festival, Photos by Paul Campbell

This article was published on 06 Feb 2018