HIE recognises the development of the area’s community-based culture, arts and heritage activities as being fundamental drivers to enhancing the attractiveness and distinctiveness of the Highlands and Islands region.
We strive to achieve the greatest impact from our actions to further add to the cultural environment of the Highlands and Islands, ensuring our region continues to be identified as a globally distinctive, culturally rich and successful region.
Driving forward influential partnerships is central to our role in developing the culture, arts and heritage sector. We undertake a broad range of activities, at our own hand and in partnership with others, which aim to sustain and develop the area’s rich array of culture, arts and heritage resources. We collaborate with public sector bodies to provide important infrastructure for providing cultural development services across the region.
Our unique remit, integrating economic and social development, allows us to provide targeted business development assistance to businesses and social enterprises operating in the culture and creative industries sector through to supporting community-based cultural activities.
For example, HIE works directly with cultural organisations, such as Fèisean nan Gaidheal (FnaG), to develop community-based cultural activities. FnaG, one of our largest cultural social enterprises, supports opportunities for community participation in the traditional arts. FnaG currently works with 45 separate Fèisean organisations out of which 23 are based in the fragile areas. As well as supporting opportunities for individuals, schools and community groups to engage in traditional arts activities, FnaG successfully delivers a programme of training and work placement opportunities for young people, successfully equipping them with the skills to pursue career pathways in the creative industries sector. In response to the growing demand for Fèisean related services, a new service – Fèisgoil has just been launched; this offers an exciting programme of cultural development activities to schools, community groups, local authorities and other public sector bodies.
In conjunction with funding from our national development bodies and others, the region also boasts a whole host of high quality venues, arts centres and performing arts facilities in Mull, Skye, the Uists, Stornoway and Caithness; new galleries in Sutherland, Inverness, Shetland and Orkney; Highland’s largest theatre facility – Eden Court; the unique mobile cinema the Screen Machine; and of course the recent opening of Mareel, in Shetland, which is a fantastic new venue, cinema and educational facility.
Much of this growth stems from the rich heritage of the indigenous arts of the area. Traditional music, dance, and story telling have all undergone a healthy and energetic revival, while the growing interest in, and support for, all aspects of Gaelic language and culture have been paralleled by similar growth in Orcadian and Shetlandic traditions.
At the same time creative people from the Highlands and Islands are also looking forward and outwards. Bands from Shetland, Stornoway, Inverness and Easter Ross are all achieving national and international success in the contemporary mainstream. Highlands and Islands artists sell well at art fairs in Glasgow and London. There is a wealth of exciting writing emerging from new authors of all ages. It is fair to conclude that our exciting and vibrant arts and culture scene makes an enormous contribution to promoting the distinctiveness and attractiveness of our region as a place to visit, live, study and invest in.
Key national development agencies: