Malka, a musician at XpoNorth 2018

XpoNorth 2020 annual conference cancelled

Published: 24/03/2020

Scotland's leading creative industries annual conference and showcase event, which normally takes place in Inverness, will not go ahead in June as planned.

Ian Hamilton, HIE's Head of Creative Industries
Iain Hamilton, HIE's head of creative industries

XpoNorth is funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) as part of the agency's support for the creative industries.

Organisers announced today that after closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation, and with concern for its delegates, speakers, showcasing artists, conference partners, suppliers and staff, they had cancelled XpoNorth 2020. The event was due to take place at Eden Court Theatre on 24 and 25 June.

In light of the latest advice from both UK and Scottish Government, organisers felt this was the most responsible course of action.

The new guidelines have also led XpoNorth to cancel its ‘On the Road’ events, which were already in progress and had seen the team helping creatives in Oban and Fort William. 

Iain Hamilton, HIE’s head of creative industries, said:

“The multi-faceted delivery model of an event such as XpoNorth requires significant advance logistical and strategic preparation. Although we have programmed and curated an outstanding conference schedule for 2020, the health and safety of every network related to the event has to be our main priority in this unprecedented situation.

“XpoNorth strives to offer a global aspect on the key themes impacting and shaping the creative and cultural arenas. It has consistently attracted some of the most influential networks across the international marketplace to Scotland and the Highlands and Islands.

“Given the nature of our event, we feel a deep sense of responsibility to ensure that we make the correct decision in the face of this pandemic and take the latest government advice with the upmost seriousness.”

XpoNorth has been working hard behind the scenes to accelerate its digital provision under the current circumstances. 

In the past week it launched its Heritage HangOuts and the first edition in its new series of Podcasts

Heritage HangOuts offer 30-minute discussion slots for heritage organisations across the Highland and Islands.

Podcasts highlight different ways people can potentially generate new ideas, products, services and income during what is a very difficult period for most businesses and organisations. 

To help alleviate what is a very challenging time for everyone, XpoNorth has started to compile a list of COVID-19 links and resources on its website. 

XpoNorth supports local creatives and businesses year-round to connect and advise practitioners across the creative industries.  It offers direct access to the Highlands and Islands network as well as the global marketplace to ensure that all creatives can connect with industry professionals. 

The ‘Sector Support Programme’ is an agile customer led service that facilitates access to specialist advisors for creative and cultural businesses based in the Highlands and Islands.  Its ‘On the Road’ events are an important element in reaching out to creative communities. Inverness, Elgin, Skye, Wick, Stornoway and Orkney were all due to be visited during this tour of the region.  

Last year's even in Inverness attracted more than 1,500 delegates across the creative sector and produced 57 seminars featuring a host of leading local, national and international speakers. 

The conference also showcased more than 60 music acts across the city. It produced a diverse film screening programme while presenting dedicated craft exhibitions, trade areas for regional, national and international partners as well as a range of receptions and networking opportunities.

Previous XpoNorth speakers include representatives from Paramount, Universal, Sony, NASA, Times of India Media Group, The Louvre, The Internal Olympic Committee and Museum, HarperCollins, NBC, CBC, Alessi, Harris Tweed Authority, The Tate Gallery, Bookbub, Kobo, Google, YouTube, Xbox and PlayStation.

The XpoNorth website, Twitter feed and Facebook page are being used to provide further updates and useful resources. People can also sign up to its newsletter or with any other questions.

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