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Findhorn Bay Arts wins at 20th SURF Awards

Published: 06 Dec 2018

Findhorn Bay Arts

Findhorn Bay Arts has won the Creative Regeneration Award, sponsored by Creative Scotland, at the prestigious 2018 ‘20th Anniversary’ SURF Awards in Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel.

The SURF Awards panel were impressed by the broad impact the programme was having on the region, including working collaboratively to increase opportunities for young people to participate in the arts, while also helping grow tourism. Findhorn Bay Arts represents an outstanding example of how the arts can bring people together and act as a catalyst for the cultural, social and economic development of a region.

Findhorn Bay Arts provides an outstanding example of an artist-led approach which involved, supported and excited communities across the region.- Gary Cameron, Creative Scotland

Findhorn Bay Arts were shortlisted for the award alongside WHALE Arts in Wester Hailes, Edinburgh and Creative Communities [Reach Out With Arts in Mind] in Clackmannanshire.

The SURF Awards are delivered each year by SURF, a regeneration forum with over 280 cross-sector member organisations across Scotland, in partnership with the Scottish Government. The purpose is to highlight, celebrate and share the achievements of initiatives that address physical, social and economic challenges in communities across Scotland. Awards were received across five categories, demonstrating the value of a long-term approach to regeneration, with dedicated partners working strategically and inclusively to develop comprehensive plans and deliver real and sustainable benefits for all.

Findhorn Bay Arts is clearly rooted in local communities but is able to maintain a global outlook. The Findhorn Bay Festival not only brings international artists into the region, but nurtures local creative talent, while Culture Day Forres provides a platform for residents to showcase and celebrate their culture and creativity.

Gary Cameron, Head of Place, Partnerships and Communities at Creative Scotland, said: “Congratulations to Findhorn Bay Arts for winning this year’s SURF Creative Regeneration Award and to WHALE Arts and Reach Out with Arts in Mind for being shortlisted. Each of these initiatives demonstrated the importance of arts and culture to our individual and collective wellbeing, with Findhorn Bay Arts providing an outstanding example of an artist-led approach which involved, supported and excited communities across the region.”

Representatives of the five category winning initiatives for 2018 were personally congratulated on their inspiring work by the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Communities, Aileen Campbell MSP.

Aileen Campbell MSP, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Communities: “I am delighted to be involved with the annual SURF Awards for the first time, as it celebrates its 20th anniversary. The shortlisted applications are an inspiration and testament to what is possible when communities are empowered and proactive in shaping their own futures. The SURF Awards remain an outstanding platform for identifying and showcasing successful community regeneration across Scotland.”

In congratulating the winners, SURF Chair Kate Wimpress said as with the previous 20 years, the 2018 SURF Awards celebrate exceptional projects operating across the country. “The independent panel of judges have once again been impressed by the commitment, creativity and care for both project and people, in all shortlisted initiatives. SURF looks forward to sharing these stories of what works, across Scotland and beyond.”

Last year, on winning the 2017 Creative Regeneration Award, Karen Orr of RIG Arts commented: “Recognition in being shortlisted or winning a SURF Award is a stamp of quality and validation for many organisations. It's a fantastic opportunity to share best practice in regeneration at a national level. Creative Regeneration is a vital element in creating positive change and in strengthening communities. Strong partnerships and a belief and investment from funders such as Creative Scotland help make this a reality."

More about Findhorn Bay Arts Project

Findhorn Bay Arts is a non-profit arts organisation. It engages with a wide range of partners in the course of its project delivery, including Creative Scotland, Moray College, and National Theatre of Scotland.  The closure of the Royal Air Force base in Kinloss in 2011, which had been in operation since the 1930s, was a significant blow to the Moray economy. In 2012, Findhorn Bay Arts was established partly in response to this development, following a series of open meetings and discussions between the region’s creative practitioners and its local residents. Based in the town of Forres, the organisation has regularly produced award-winning cultural events and projects to support its aspiration of saving, celebrating and expanding Moray’s arts and culture scene.

These activities include:

  • Findhorn Bay Festival, a biennial gathering, which in 2016 attracted 13,000 attendees to a busy four-day events programme that featured the sold-out production, Macbeth: The Remix;
  • Three Culture Day Forres programmes, the first of which, in 2013, featured 80 events and 120 local arts and community organisations, and contributed an estimated £107,000 to the local economy;
  • CashBack for Creativity, a personal development support programme for young people in Moray who are dealing with poverty, social isolation or unemployment;
  • IGNITE: Moray Youth Arts Hub, which has provided more than 3000 young people with opportunities to learn and develop skills in filmmaking, dance and other art forms;
  • An education programme on Old Scots poetry, in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Institute. Findhorn Bay Arts’ activities have demonstrated substantial positive impacts for Moray’s artists, residents, tourists, and economy.

About the shortlisted projects

Reachout: Creative Communities

Reachout With Arts in Mind, a voluntary organisation first established in 1993 as a drama group for local adults experiencing adult ill health. It works with 38 external partners including local GPs and Clackmannanshire Council. Their Reachout: Creative Communities project has delivered a programme of community-based arts and wellbeing activities, in addition to workshops, events, and volunteering and employability training opportunities for adults experiencing mental ill health, carers, and disadvantaged individuals experiencing difficulties accessing mainstream services.

The judges saw that Creative Communities has people at its absolute centre and is clearly making a significant difference to the health and wellbeing of everyone it works with. Alongside the evident dedication of staff and volunteers, the panel were impressed by the collaborative approach and the positive feedback from partners, in addition to the high quality of the creative activity it delivers. The project has undergone major change in recent times, but the unwavering commitment in the value of the arts to individuals and communities will ensure that it will continue to go from strength to strength.

About WHALE Arts

WHALE Arts was founded by local community members in 1992. Starting life in a porta-cabin, it has since established itself as the cultural anchor organisation for Wester Hailes. The enthusiasm and positivity of residents, staff and volunteers made it clear to the SURF Awards panel that WHALE Arts is an open, inclusive and much loved organisation & venue. In addition to the range of creative activities taking place at WHALE Arts Centre, the panel were impressed by their ability to think and act across community locations. The inaugural Wester Hailes Film and Moving Image Festival and ongoing Street Arts initiative demonstrate a progressive approach to reaching out. WHALE Arts has a storied past and a bright future.

Category Winners

SURF’s panel of 20 independent judges are drawn from national regeneration bodies and community groups. They carefully assessed all of the varied SURF Awards nominations in five thematic categories, visiting 15 different shortlisted initiatives from Dumfries and Galloway to Orkney Islands, before selecting the following category winners:

  • Community Led Regeneration: Papay Community Cooperative (Papa Westray, Orkney). The Cooperative aimed to rejuvenate an economically challenged remote island community by establishing a social and economic hub.
  • Creative Regeneration: Findhorn Bay Arts (Forres). The non-profit arts organisation deliver high quality regional arts activities to showcase local artists, improve pride of place, support the economy, provide opportunities for young people, and attract visitors to Forres.
  • Housing: Chapelpark: A New Beginning (Angus). Led by Angus Council, the project converted a vacant, historically significant B-Listed school building and site into affordable housing.
  • Youth Employability: Overcoming Barriers: Pathfinder (Glasgow). Led by the DRC Youth Project and WorkingRite the programme removes labour market disconnects for young people by taking a collaborative approach, rooted in the strengths and assets of each individual, to support them into sustained employment.
  • Scotland’s Most Improved Place: Westray (Orkney). The Trust's mission is to develop the economic, social and cultural sustainability of Westray by harnessing the quality of its resources, people and island environment. The island has become known for its hands-on approach, and self-sustaining community.

The SURF Awards Presentation Dinner was attended by 240 guests from a wide range of public, private, and third sector organisations. Since 2003, the SURF Awards have been delivered by SURF in partnership with the Scottish Government. SURF is also grateful for additional support provided by Architecture + Design Scotland, Creative Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Scotland’s Towns Partnership and Skills Development Scotland towards the delivery of thematic categories.