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£2.3m boost for new creative industries strategy

12 December 2014

Four contractors have been appointed to deliver the Highlands and Islands Creative Industries Network Programme over the next three years.

The appointments follow the launch last night (11 Dec) of a new five-year Creative Industries Strategy by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) at Eden Court in Inverness.

The Creative Industries Network Programme, which is funded by over £2.3m from HIE and Creative Scotland, underpins the activities planned across the strategy.  This new funding  also supports  ambitious growth of  the showcase festival XPONORTH, formerly called goNORTH, as an international platform for creative industries talent from across the Highlands and Islands.  

Iain Hamilton, Head of Creative Industries at HIE, said: “This Highlands and Islands Creative Industries Strategy is about helping  the region’s creative businesses, sole traders and freelancers to keep growing. The industry networks and XPONORTH are at the core of this.  Between them, the network programme managers bring a huge range of experience and capability. They will provide valuable practical support on, for example, industry and markets, use of digital platforms and collaboration, particularly international.”

The creative industries are a major contributor to the Scottish economy, with 65,000 jobs and 12,300 businesses delivering £2.7bn GVA per annum, according to a 2014 report by Skills Development Scotland (1).

In the Highlands and Islands, a 2009 report into the industry by consultants EKOS revealed the sector employed more than 16,000 people and had a turnover of £739m (2).

The Highlands and Islands Creative Industries Strategy recognises the diversity and complexity of the industry, almost exclusively made up of small to medium enterprises and individual creative entrepreneurs.  It aims to build dynamic, innovative, competitive and sustainable creative businesses across the region.

HIE prioritises four subsectors for pro-active support:
• screen and broadcast
• music
• writing/publishing
• crafts,  designer fashion and textiles. 

Over the lifetime of the new strategy, HIE will prioritise two additional subsectors for support – design services and digital industries.

The industry network programmes cover each of these subsectors, focusing HIE’s support on the areas which offer the greatest economic impact, combined with their importance in fragile areas.

Screen HI is leading on the screen and broadcast work. Director Amanda Millen is supported by a strong team including Alan de Pellette, an experienced writer and producer and former BAFTA director.

The music contract is being run by Alex Smith of Inverness Ironworks, with support from the Ironworks team including its two directors, Caroline Campbell and Robert Hicks.

Peter Urpeth of Emergents CIC will work in collaboration with the publishing industry to deliver the writing and publishing network.

Emergents is also delivering the crafts, fashion and textiles contract, with Pamela Conacher in the lead, in collaboration with national sector organisations.

The Highlands and Islands Creative Indsutries Strategy 2014-2019 can be downloaded from the Related Documents section at


  • HIE’s five year creative industries strategy aims to ‘establish a vibrant, competitive and sustainable creative economy in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands, which builds upon the energy and traditions of its remote, rural communities and its global connectedness.’

    Three areas of activity are highlighted to achieve this:

    1. Build the region’s profile and reputation as an exemplar for the successful development of the creative economy in remote, rural regions.

    2. Support emerging and established creative entrepreneurs with the aptitude, flexibility, tenacity to build dynamic, innovative, competitive and sustainable (DISC) creative businesses within the region.

    3. Leverage more from existing assets and activities, to ensure the most appropriate support for creative businesses is provided across the region and to ensure that HIE sees an appropriate return on its investment.

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