What do they do? / Dè bhitheas iad a’ dèanamh?

Established in 1986, Helmsdale based Timespan developed from a small local heritage centre to an award-winning museum and the only public art gallery in Sutherland, with a core visiting audience of around 13,000 per annum.

Timespan is a cultural development organisation and a creative hub.

It provides a high quality venue and programme for people locally, nationally and internationally.  Its strength is building partnerships and collaborating with researchers, artists, audiences and participants of all ages and backgrounds to preserve, sustain, celebrate and amplify the unique culture of the region.

An extract from Timespan’s operating plan explains: “We believe in new ideas and creative exchange, in access to excellence, in adding value, in promoting education and facilitating vibrant community dialogue based on fair exchange.  We aim to challenge perceptions of what can be delivered by a cultural organisation rooted in the distinctive, but fragile, socio-economic ecology of this large, rural and remote area”.

The Journey / An Turas

The beginning – HIE’s involvement / Mar a tha HIE an sàs

Timespan has been account managed by HIE since its redevelopment in 2007.  Since then, Timespan has gone from strength to strength.

The new growth plan (2013-2015) focuses on a themed programming approach to grow audiences that considers heritage, arts and community.

Timespan recognised its role as a sector leader in the region and strategically aims to widen its reach and remit.

HIE’s contribution / An taic bho HIE

Timespan is one of the largest employers in Helmsdale.  Income from their shop, cafe and museum admissions contribute to core running costs.  Although visitor numbers were down in 2012, spend per head has increased due to HIE investment into the café and shop through retail consultancy and training.

HIE has co-invested in an international endowment appeal for Timespan which will be managed by Timespan’s newly appointed Endowment Appeal Manager.  A case for support is currently being written by SKS consultants.  A successful appeal will ensure sustainability for the organisation through the creation of a dependable and secure annual increase of unrestricted core income.

The commission and installation of a large scale sculpture at Borgie Forest by internationally renowned artist, Kenny Hunter, has been well received by visitors.

In 2013, Timespan expects an increase in visitors as part of the Clearances Bicentenary.  To make the museum more focused on the Bicentenary they have updated their display panels.  In addition, a virtual tour of a township is being created for Timespan by St. Andrews University; through this it will be possible for visitors to explore living conditions in a Sutherland township before the clearances.  The data for this is based on an archaeological excavation undertaken largely by trained volunteers in Caen, in the Strath of Kildonan.

Timespan has also been supported to create an interactive Smartphone App, which gives tourists a guided  “Scotland’s Clearances Trail”.

Expected Outcomes / Na Builean

HIE’s support will assist Timespan realise its growth potential.

Timespan recognises a lack of resources; due to its steady growth that will need to be addressed (endowment appeal, internship programme, further improvement of shop and cafe, securing posts).

Timespan is a centre for innovation.  They are progressing with several projects which will develop both their business and that of the tourism and culture sectors as a whole.

Contact for further information / Tuilleadh fios bho

Peter Guthrie, Tel. 01408 635105.

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