We consider art as vital to the future sustainability and resilience of our islands. Orkney’s landscape, unique culture and sense of place will continue to be a source of inspiration for artists. A readiness to experiment and innovate will help us to realise a creative and vibrant economy and a dynamic place where people choose to live and work.

Orkney’s landscape has long been a source of inspiration; a consistent theme and the defining influence amongst Orkney’s most well-known musicians, writers and makers. Artists continue to be drawn here by this legacy, by visions of land and sea, distance, departure and safe harbour. 

"The full significance of Rackwick in the rich flowering of Orcadian Culture in the late 20th century has still to be properly evaluated, but its importance is beyond question”

Archie Bevan, a founder of the St Magnus International Festival 

The arts sector will play its part in helping to preserve a landscape of rich natural and cultural significance, safeguarding our tangible built heritage and internationally important collections as well as the stories, knowledge and skills which are synonymous with these islands.

Cultural tourism is a major economic driver and represents a significant share of Orkney’s economy. Orkney’s historic environment and archaeology are key motivators, according to Visit Scotland 80% of visitors in 2014 visited an archaeological site with Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar and St Magnus Cathedral being amongst the most visited places. Equally important however is the year round calendar of cultural events - these too play an important role in attracting people to the county. The St Magnus International Festival, Orkney Folk Festival and Orkney International Science Festival all cater to both domestic and international tourism markets, bringing with them significant reputational and economic value.

Community development and empowerment has, in many of the most successful examples, been driven by arts and cultural activity. We recognise the arts as an important community asset and understand that the profusion of small scale projects and events play a pivotal role in local communities and how people feel about the place they live and work. 76% of people in Scotland say their local area would lose something of value if the area lost its arts and cultural activities - Scottish Opinion Survey TNS, September 2014.

In a contemporary sense it (community development) is based on harnessing the collective imagination and intelligence of citizens in making, shaping and co-creating” Charles Landry, Creative Urban Planner 

Orkney’s cultural infrastructure is an important factor in our ability to cultivate and showcase
the very best of our home grown creative talent
as well as host performances and exhibitions by international artists and companies. Since the last strategy the realisation of the new Orkney Theatre as well as the recently opened Stromness Studios and the Kelp Store Heritage and Craft Centre in Papa Westray are all welcome and important additions

to the landscape. Future opportunities are now presented by the development of the Old Library in Kirkwall, the Old Post Office in Stromness, as well as the significant investment in a new research and innovation campus in Stromness. As a sector we will provide support for these and other new developments to help ensure they cater and provide the provision needed by the community.

The Creative Industries represent the fastest growing sector in the UK and are estimated to contribute £3.7 billion to Scotland’s economy - Scottish Government Growth Sector Statistics, October 2015. Orkney’s geographical context means that it is not the first place that springs to mind when thinking about the creative industries, yet there are many historical and contemporary examples of creative businesses succeeding in Orkney. Perhaps most notably Orkney jewellery has a long established reputation for its design and craftsmanship - now the next generation of designers and makers are achieving success and exporting their work internationally.

The Creative Industries and Social Enterprise have an important role to play in helping to achieve sustainable economic growth and helping rural economies such as Orkney to diversify and transition from traditional rural models. Further work is needed to explore these opportunities and to stimulate local growth in this sector. By providing the right conditions and incentives Orkney could become a viable place for more creative businesses to set up and enjoy success, whilst at the same time making a valuable contribution to communities and the local economy. 

Sector aims and ambitions - Place

  • Maintain and celebrate Orkney’s unique built heritage, natural environment, arts and heritage collections and cultural traditions

  • Raise awareness of and promote Orkney’s ‘Living Culture’ as a cultural tourism driver

  • Encourage investment in capital cultural projects and infrastructure

  • Explore cross sectoral collaborations locally, regionally, nationally and internationally

  • Make use of the combined knowledge and expertise in Orkney’s arts and business sectors to support new creative start-ups and social enterprises 

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