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Shetland gears up for XpoNorth

Published: 15/06/2021

As the creative sector gears up for XpoNorth, Helen Smith of HIE’s Shetland team is looking forward to seeing more islanders getting involved.

Helen Smith HIE account manager in Shetland
Helen Smith, HIE Account Manager, Shetland

My highlight in HIE’s packed calendar of events is the annual XpoNorth conference, taking place on 16 and 17 June this year. 

The free conference, the largest of its type in Scotland, is for anyone working or wanting to work in the creative sector. The programme features high calibre speakers from the creative, digital and heritage sectors. I might be biased, but I think the programme of talks, workshops and seminars gets better each year. 

If this year’s event wasn’t digital, I might fall over myself trying to get to Patrick Grant (of Sewing Bee fame) to ask him about his work as a Saville Row tailor.

Pre-Covid, the conference was held at the Eden Court Theatre and Ironworks in Inverness. Both venues were a hive of activity and there was such a buzz – musicians, filmmakers, textile designers, publishers, broadcasters, artists and performers from every possible genre of creativity mixed and mingled over the two days. 

New connections were made and creativity blossomed. As we all know, last year was a year unlike any other and the XpoNorth team were determined to deliver a conference, so they did that 2020 thing – they pivoted and delivered it digitally. And with great success. This year they’re building on that success.

In previous years, delegates from Shetland might have felt it tricky to attend.  Sometimes it’s not possible to step away from the business for a couple of days and there was the expense of travelling to Inverness to factor in too.  Those barriers have now been swept away - you can attend the event using the Social App and access content from wherever you are and either watch live or download it and watch it later.  

This creates the other advantage of not having to decide which great talk you’re going to miss when two are running at the same time. You can even interact and strike up conversations with speakers and other delegates via the app, so the networking opportunities are still there – maybe even slightly easier, no more trying to track someone down between talks, or at the bar. 

My only wish is that I could hear the Elephant Sessions live – they’re playing at the official afterparty at the Ironworks on 17 June. As I write this, I’m playing Riverview (Ros T Remix) to get me in the mood! I suppose that’s one of the benefits of working from home, I can play music in the background and not annoy my colleagues!  

Register for XpoNorth Conference at:  

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