The fifth biggest out of Creative Scotland’s 32 national awards made from a total fund of £1.2 million for partnership projects linking tourism and culture, has gone to heART of ARGYLL.
This was proposed by Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance with the artists’ collective, Artmap Argyll and Kilmartin House Museum, the focal point for the archaeological riches of Kilmartin Glen in Mid Argyll.
Iain Munro, Director of Creative Development for Creative Scotland, said of the awards: ‘The Year of Creative Scotland is a chance for us to celebrate and promote Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths at home and on a world stage. These awards will enhance Scotland’s position as a tourist destination to national and international visitors alike and one of the world’s leading creative nations.’
The heART of ARGYLL initiative says that it: ‘links artists, tourism businesses and visitor destinations to develop, coordinate and deliver ‘heARTofARGYLL’ Arts and Heritage Festival in 2012 and 2013.’
The overall project has a value of £150,000 and appears to be a rolling festival of events, several of which are existing and familiar – and with an aim of presenting them all under a single event brand and marketing them as such.
The familiar events are the big ones of the Crinan Canal Water Festival, the Artmap Open Studios weekend and the Lochgilphead Lantern Parade.
The new ones include a Literary Festival at Kilmartin House Museum next year; a series of Discover Dalriada creative workshops in the landscape; Sounding Dunadd a participatory performance which will use Dunadd Fort and the surrounding landscape in an outdoor performance; and a multi media Argyll Rock Art production.
The idea is that the 2013 festival will build on the success of 2012 and hopefully lead into something really special in 2014, the next Year of Homecoming – and for which we assume further funding will be sought.
heART of ARGYLL will shortly be finalising the overall programme for 2012. Various marketing initiatives are being planned to encourage more tourists to come to the area and participate in these cultural activities. One example is a prize draw offering the chance to commission your own piece of art if you visit a number of different studios during the Artmap weekend.
Match funding for the eighteen month programme is coming from a variety of sources including the project partners and the Council.
There is scope for other creative and cultural activity to come in under the umbrella of heARTofARGYLL over the next 2 years and the partners have already opened discussions with some local groups.
It is good to see the securing of this year’s and next year;s Crinan Canal Water Festival, the Artmap Open Studios event and the Lochgilphead Lantern Parade.
The new events also sound interesting although there seems to us to be a risk of promising more than can be delivered with this overall fund, given the expectations created in the way they are being described.
‘Sounding Dunadd a participatory performance which will use Dunadd Fort and the surrounding landscape in an outdoor performance; and a multi media Argyll Rock Art production’. Both of these give rise to the anticipation of events of a scale and a professionalism than could realistically be achieved with what is left in the £150,000 fund when two Crinan Canal Water Festivals, two Artmap Argyll Open Studios and two Lochgilphead Lantern Parades have been paid for.
Given that the project also mentions the possibility of public art of some kind for Ardrishaig and the Crinan Canal, from the same pot, greater budgetary realism may be necessary.
The tendency to inflationary promises is almost an inevitable result of funding processes which are subject to and encourage a degree of pretension. This devalues the world of art and culture in the eyes of straightforward people and actually obstructs the openness to mystery and discovery which is the heART of the matter. It’s not heART of ARGYLL’s fault – it’s a system that needs reappraisal.