Iain Hamilton Xponorth

New XpoNorth support programme launched

Published: 20/02/2020

Museums and heritage organisations in the Highlands and Islands are being offered the chance to work with creative industries to help bring forward innovative ideas.

Iain Hamilton, HIE's head of creative industries

Led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), a new pilot programme launched this week (19 February 2020) will help groups tell their fascinating stories to visitors while creating new revenue opportunities.

The programme, ‘XpoNorth Heritage’, will support organisations and businesses with an advisor to help them develop innovative new ideas. They will be introduced to networks of creative businesses who can help take the ideas to market and help open new ways for visitors to experience history.

The advisors and creative businesses will help to inspire new ways of viewing the world around stories from the region. This could be through innovations such as VR experiences, exhibition design, poetry, craft sales, music festivals or book publishing.

Fantastic projects and experiences are already happening when heritage organisations and creative practitioners work together. For example, at the Calanais Visitor Centre in the Isle of Lewis, a cutting-edge digital project is being developed to map out buried features at the site, creating a digital interactive experience.

With support from HIE, Museums Galleries Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Creative Scotland, this new £41,000 project is being piloted for a year.

The project is developed through the HIE-funded XpoNorth, which provides a range of all-year round support programmes for creative talent throughout the region.

Iain Hamilton, head of creative industries at HIE, said:


“We recognise the essential role heritage plays in economic success. Last year’s XpoNorth conference and showcase attracted plenty of interest in the heritage sector, focusing on getting the stories held by museums to a wider audience and it was clear that there is demand to continue this engagement.

“There is a wealth of stories rich in heritage that can be turned into innovative content, attracting new audiences to their work, encouraging tourism and opening new revenue streams. ‘XpoNorth Heritage’ will help unlock the potential by linking the organisations with creative businesses to help them work with the latest technology.”

A project co-ordinator has been recruited to act as the heritage lead advisor. Nicola Henderson, who hails from Nairn, has worked freelance with a wide range of cultural organisations on a variety of heritage, performing and visual art projects. She is encouraging museums and anyone working in heritage to send in enquiries for advice or help, but to sign up soon as demand is expected to be high. Enquiries should be submitted through the Xponorth website.

Lucy Casot, chief executive officer for Museums Galleries Scotland, said:


“We are delighted to support this new and innovative programme, helping to bring together museums and heritage organisations with creative businesses, to explore and develop new and exciting ways to tell our stories to a wider audience, which will help strengthen tourism in the region and generate additional streams of funding. It’s fantastic to see other projects in the Highlands and Islands that have already benefited from similar partnership working, resulting in a more engaging visitor experience.”

XpoNorth develops creative talent throughout the region all-year round with a range of free sector support programmes open to businesses. The annual XpoNorth event can link across creative sectors and introduce talents and buyers who might never have engaged. This year it takes place 24-25 June. XpoNorth is funded by HIE.

The first in a series of XpoNorth workshops and webinars will be held on Monday 24 February 3:30-6pm at #hellodigital, An Lòchran, Inverness Campus.

Topics include the crowd economy and remote participation.

For more information is at https://xponorth.co.uk/news/hellodigital-crowd-economy-and-remote-participation-workshop

Related Articles