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XpoNorth conference keynotes available to relive on catch-up

Published: 11/08/2022

XpoNorth, Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s (HIE's) specialist support mechanism for creative industries, reached an audience of more than 2,000 people at its annual conference in June.

Iain Hamilton

Those who missed out on the digital event, which took place 15-16 June, can now access insights from the conference on XpoNorth’s YouTube channel, which can be accessed here.

The event celebrated the power of narratives to preserve heritage, connect cultures, exchange ideas and boost economies. It brought together everyone from top international speakers and creative business leaders to creative industry students.

Part of XpoNorth’s year-round series of free events for creative and heritage businesses in the region highlights that are available to view include sessions converging around the conference’s theme of ‘storytelling’.

In collaboration with Joelle Taylor, winner of this year’s TS Eliot Prize, Poetry Now! was led by award-winning poet Michael Pedersen, who has since released his memoir ‘Boy Friends’ to widespread acclaim.

Remaining with the theme of the continuing relevance of storytelling in our contemporary live, Writing Your Passion saw Coinneach Macleod (otherwise known as ‘The Hebridean Baker’) and Mallachy Tallack discuss how they transformed their respective passions for baking and fishing into successful books. Passion for the arts was also foundational to Joe Gibbs’s creation of the Belladrum Festival, whose origins and future trajectory were the topic of Putting a Region on the Map: Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival…Past, Present and Future.

Looking towards the future continued to be a pertinent subject in several sessions, such as New Foundations for Creative Recovery, Renewal and Resilience, which explored the ways in which the creative industries can adapt to an unfolding new cultural landscape following the shocks of Brexit and Covid.

Others, meanwhile, explored a different form of change: author and autistic advocate Chris Bonnello participated in a session on Supporting and Encouraging Neurodiversity, in which panellists discussed how the sector can adapt itself to better accommodate neurodivergent creatives and enable them to flourish.

Iain Hamilton, head of creative industries at HIE and co-founder of XpoNorth, said:

“Providing a platform for the exchange of ideas is key to enabling the creative industry to thrive against an ever-changing cultural backdrop. This year’s conference united a range of speakers, from authors to innovators and advocates to entrepreneurs, who share a common interest in helping the creative economy in the Highlands and Islands to thrive.

“In keeping with the theme of accessibility and inclusivity in the arts, which was central to this year’s conference, the digitisation of conference events has enabled a wide audience to share in our commitment to supporting the creative industries. We would encourage those who missed out, or who are looking to relive some of the highlights, to explore what is on offer on XpoNorth’s YouTube channel.”