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Bid to Shine a Light on All Angus Has to Offer

Angus culture and heritage is set for a shot in the arm through a new drive to deliver a dedicated strategy for the district.

As Tay Cities neighbours revealed an innovative bid to become the first UK City of Culture collaborative, the specific Angus plan – led by a soon-to-be launched local consortium – has been announced.

It aims to maximise the potential of the culture, heritage and natural assets in an area which experts say is a match for any other similar-sized part of the UK.

The strategy has been developed by independent consultancy Culture Radar.

It was commissioned by arms’ length council leisure trust Angus Alive and the Angus Place Partnership at the outset of the pandemic.

The initiative has seen input from almost 200 professionals, freelancers and community groups across the area’s culture sector.

Angus Council, Creative Scotland and the Angus Community Planning Partnership supported the development of the strategy.

Digging into the diversity of the area’s culture and heritage offering revealed the breadth and depth of what Angus can shout about.

A snapshot of the area’s cultural treasure trove reveals:

  • 2,181 sq. km. of scenic landscape and 109km of North Sea coastline.
  • Internationally-renowned locations including Arbroath Abbey and Glamis Castle.
  • World-famous figures ranging from Peter Pan creator Sir J M Barrie, sculptor William Lamb and landscape artist James Morrison to ACDC front man Bon Scott.
  • 25 public and independent museums and art galleries.
  • 20 performance venues and spaces.
  • 75+ community groups including crafts, heritage, fine arts, writing and photography.
  • 22 festivals and public events such as the Angus Accordion and Fiddle Fetsival, Bonfest, Auchmithie HAAR and Kirrie Festival.
  • 71 organisations offering creative skills across a range of art forms.

Jeannie Scott of Culture Radar said: “Angus is rich both in its cultural heritage, language, traditions and collections as well as its natural landscape – you’d be hard pressed to find an area its size with a comparable offer elsewhere in the UK.

“It is also home to a vibrant community of creative freelancers, culture and heritage professionals and volunteers who undertake incredible work, but not enough people know about what is on offer.

“They are, and will continue to be, central to bringing Angus’ rich culture and heritage alive for communities and visitors alike.

“This strategy aims to create more local opportunities for creative projects that will benefit them and make Angus an even more stimulating place for people to live, work and visit.”

The importance of culture and heritage to Angus tourism is highlighted in the strategy.

Angus Community Planning Partnership chairperson Margo Williamson said:  “One thing we have all experienced through Covid is how important culture and creativity is in our daily lives, and the part it plays in the health and wellbeing of our communities.

“The strategy gives us a focus to come together to build projects and draw investment into activities that will reach and benefit more people in Angus.”

The strategy aims to deliver opportunity for the area’s future generations.

Angus Alive chief executive Kirsty Hunter said: “The county’s cultural stakeholders can work together to ensure every young person has the opportunity to engage with culture and participate in a cultural life that is relevant and meaningful for them.

“It all helps to build confidence and open up thinking about what the future could look like for them here in Angus.

“We want to be supporting that along with other partners locally.”

The Angus Culture and Heritage Consortium is being created to deliver the district-wide strategy over the next two years.

It will be made up of Angus-based organisations, community groups and creatives.

Those behind the plan want to see all parts of the culture sector given a voice in prioritising activities.

Angus Alive will lead the consortium and recruit a full-time project manager oversee the strategy’s delivery.

The lead figure and consortium are due to be in place by the end of the year.

Karen Dick, head of Place, Partnerships and Communities at Creative Scotland said: “This is an exciting step for Angus.

“It’s fantastic to witness such widespread support and enthusiasm for the area’s unique culture and heritage.

“As plans develop and we emerge from the pandemic in the months and years ahead, we can be confident that Angus’ culture and heritage will be at the heart of a sustainable, fairer period of recovery and renewal.”

The challenge facing the new consortium comes amidst concerns over the pandemic impact on the Angus cultural offering.

The district scored a major coup in securing major exhibitions for Montrose museum and Forfar’s Meffan.

The Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture brought its critically-acclaimed Ages of Wonder touring exhibition to the two venues as the final ports of call on a national tour.

But as recently as last week, concerns were raised over the outlook for smaller attractions in Kirriemuir and Brechin.

Kirrie’s Gateway to the Glens museum and the Town House in Brechin will not be re-opening to visitors before October, sparking fears they face an uncertain future.

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