WayWORD Festival returns to Aberdeen

WayWORD is returning to Aberdeen from 19-26 September. The literary festival, which organisers first launched in 2020, will shine a spotlight on unconventional forms of expression. Online and in-person visitors can expect an especially inspiring line-up of poets, artists, writers and creators for author events, workshops, performances and discussion panels. A talented group of young people are behind the WayWORD festival, while University of Aberdeen play host.



Organisers aim to bring under-explored arts and artists in to view. This year’s line-up includes workshops in animation, Bothy ballads, and creative writing to improve mental health. Headliners include Val McDermid, Karine Polwart, Irvine Welsh, Alex Wheatle, A.L. Kennedy and Kirstin Innes. With more than 40 events covering topics such as nature, beauty, witches, poetry, music, comedy, Gaelic playwriting, dance, painting, and sound art, there is something for everyone at WayWORD’s 2021 festival and all tickets are FREE!

Our WayWORD Highlights

We've picked out a few of the events taking place throughout the week that have caught our attention. There are nearly 50 separate events over eight days, so make sure you check out the WayWORD event website to see what takes your fancy.

New York Times best-selling author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé | Sunday 19 Sep

The festival opens with an author discussion with a University of Aberdeen graduate. At just 22, Àbíké-Íyímídé is already a New York Times bestselling author for her debut novel. Ace of Spades is a high-school thriller that tackles institutionalised racism as well as homophobia in the black community.

Irvine Welsh in Conversation with Alan Warner | Wednesday 22 Sep

Irvine Welsh's debut, Trainspotting is perhaps Scotland's most well known books of the 1990's. Danny Boyle adapted the supposedly un-filmable novel into one of the greatest British movies of all time. Welsh is outspoken, forthright and a sometime pain in the arse to those in power. Alan Warner, one of Scotlands best loved literary figures, teaches at University of Aberdeen. He has penned nine novels, many winning awards along the way. His latest novel, Kitchener 434 explores delusional male behaviour. The pair, who recently collaborated on The Seal Club along with John King, will discuss life and writing and conclude with a Q&A session.

North-East Voices at The Blue Lamp | Wednesday 22 Sep

The Blue Lamp hosts an extravaganza of North-East words, music and film with writers, performers and musicians. The night will feature Shane Strachan, an Aberdeen writer and performer, North-East Makar Sheena Blackhall and also spoken word artist Noon Salah Eldin. Next up, Bothy Bass stars Affa Fine make an appearance. Twa loons fae Garioch fit like a bangin choon, ken? Finally, expect a performance from award winning Scots singer Iona Fyfe.

Producer and podcast host Dan Schreiber

Writing Comedy with QI's Dan Schreiber | Friday 24 Sep

WayWORD welcomes Dan Schreiber, QI elf and one part of popular podcast No Such Thing As A Fish. He is also a producer and writer on The Museum of Curiosity and Frank Skinner’s The Rest is History. With his long-standing role researching for QI, he'll be bringing over ten years of stories and knowledge about the industry and the art form.

Val McDermid | Saturday 25 Sep

Val McDermid is one of Scotland's best known novelists. She has sold over 17 million books around the world. Her best selling series of suspense novels, Wire in the Blood, was adapted for TV. Val joins WayWORD to introduce her latest work, 1979. The new series will follow new character Allie Burns, a journalist exposing the criminal underbelly of Scotland. The Arts Lecture Theatre at University of Aberdeen will host what will surely be one of the most popular events of the festival.

What the WayWORD organisers say

Students and young people from across the city have organised the festival with guidance and mentoring from University staff. Mabel Chambers has been part of the student committee organising this year’s programme. She said: “It has been really heartening to see such exciting events and festivals going ahead after so much disappointment last year. Despite the challenges of organising such a large festival remotely, it has been amazing to have so many creative and interesting people pull together to perform and organise this year’s program.”

Festival Director, Dr Helen Lynch added: “Last year’s festival was such a success that coming up with something to build on that was a real challenge. The young people have done an amazing job of keeping it fresh and imaginative while putting in a huge amount of practical work to bring it all together. The festival has more than twice the number of events we had in 2020 and yet the programme is coherent as well as varied. There really is something for everybody in 2021.”

What you need to know

Where: Online and at venues across Aberdeen
When: 19-26 October 2021
Cost: Free
More Info: Event Website
Social media: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

WayWORD is a student and youth-led arts festival for people of all ages. WORD Centre for Creative Writing and University of Aberdeen have organised the festival. Workshops, author events, panel discussions and performance nights are all FREE and live online, with BSL interpretation.


About POST

Kevin Mitchell and Chris Sansbury founded POST from a desire to cut through the noise to share the great things that happen in Aberdeen. They focus on community, culture and the interesting people of the city. The local artists, businesses and charities; photographers, musicians and entertainers; the people at a local level that make a positive impact on our city each and every day.

The goal is to use video, audio, writing and social media to amplify the voices in our community, and to ultimately give a platform to Aberdeen folk to engage and tell their own stories.

Recent work includes interviews with Paralympic gold medalist, Neil FachieChef, an Aberdeen rapper who is pushing for success; an article by film director Mark Stirton abut the state of high-rise buildings in the city; coverage of Nuart Aberdeen and TEDx Aberdeen, as well as coverage of British Art Show 9. Visit postabdn.com to read a great selection of interviews and articles.


The return of Aberdeen Performing Arts

Aberdeen Performing Arts has announced that all of its venues will re-open to the public from Tuesday 7 September. APA closed The Music Hall, His Majesty’s Theatre and the Lemon Tree on 17 March 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic forced the world into lockdown. This resulted in the arts charity rescheduling or cancelling over 700 performances and placing 270 staff on furlough.



Jane Spiers of Aberdeen Performing Arts

Chief Executive Jane Spiers said: “We are so pleased, relieved and grateful to be opening our doors again after such a difficult 18 months.  We earn nearly 90% of our turnover through earned income and that was wiped out overnight. I can’t thank our loyal team enough, our furloughed team who stayed with us in spirit and the handful of retained team who ripped up their job descriptions and did whatever it took to keep us afloat. It’s a milestone moment for all of us and we can’t wait for curtain up. As we start to see people coming back to work it’s hard not to feel emotional. It’s much more than a turn of the key to get our three venues open again after so long and everyone is working so hard to get us there.”

“We are gradually phasing back and plan to offer a full programme again by November. For now, though, our immediate priority is to bring our beautiful buildings back to life and put measures in place to make sure that our customers and audiences feel safe and comfortable going forwards.

We’ve just put the finishing touches to a terrific Autumn/Winter season brochure. We’re so grateful to our audiences who donated so generously during the pandemic to help keep us going. There would be no show without you. Enjoy!”

New opening hours

Box offices at His Majesty’s Theatre and the Music Hall will open on Tuesday, September 7. They'll be open Tuesday to Saturday, from 10am – 6pm. Coda Café in the Music Hall will be open from Tuesday, September 14. It opening hours of Tuesday to Saturday from 9.30am – 5pm. HMT 1906 café and restaurant will remain closed until the end of November. This will allow APA to increase circulation space in the HMT foyer/box office as part of COVID safety measures.

What's on

The first performance at the Music Hall will be Nick Cave and Warren Ellis on Sunday 19 September, with the first event, the National Whisky Festival, taking place on Saturday 18 September. The first show at His Majesty’s Theatre will be the 100th Aberdeen Student Show, Freezin’ which runs at the theatre from Tuesday 14 September to Saturday 18 September, while at the Lemon Tree the first show will be The Wandering Hearts on Wednesday 8 September.


Don't miss out on our interview with Aberdeen Rapper Chef. He spoke to us this week about a BBC Scotland documentary about the Aberdeen hip-hop and R&B scene.


Temp Check: Director Mark Stirton

Mark Stirton is an Aberdeen loon through and through. It comes across in his dialogue, his humour. That dry whit that is particular to folk here the North-East of Scotland. His second movie has a legendary status with the people of Aberdeen, though it didn't travel well. One Day Removals is the story of Andy and Ronnie, a pair of Aberdeen removal men who have a very, very bad day. The sharp dialogue is in doric, peppered with as many swear words as you could possibly hope for.

His first film, The Planet, was a low budget sci-fi. He filmed it at Balmedie Beach with a budget of just £8000. No mean feat for a film that doesn't shy away from visual effects. Mark and his production team spent two years to create the models and effects.

Publicity photograph for Mark Stirton's ONE DAY REMOVALS

2018 saw the release of his third feature length, Dark Highlands, a horror about a Japanese artist who visits Scotland, only to become the target of a crazed killer. It's a delicate blend beautiful cinematography and high tension with very little dialogue.

We reached out to Mark Stirton to find out a little bit more about the man behind the films. We want to find out what inspired him to became a filmmaker, what he’s been up to during lockdown, and his plans for the future.



It's been a crazy few months with a few highs and a whole load of lows. How are you doing right now? Have you been coping okay with lockdown...and coming out of lockdown? Have you been able to work?

Yeah, I was pretty reclusive anyway so it didn't affect me so much. However I couldn't go filming so I turned to animation and had rather a fun time working with Composer Jon Brooks on Wrong Time, Wrong Space which won a few nice awards.

Being locked down really destroyed my ability to put a crew together. Now I love my crew and I enjoy working as a group, but that was just impossible, so i turned to a project that one man theoretically could do alone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sQX3nGh3_Q
Mark Stirton's lockdown short film, WRONG TIME, WRONG SPACE

Wrong Time, Wrong Space

Animation is new for you. Can you tell us about that experience?

Slight problem, I'm not an animator. So I opened some animation software, started to build my hero spaceship and made a deal with myself. If I could make the spaceship, I'd make the film. It took a while but eventually I had a hero model that could star in the film, so I just learned how to do each shot pretty much in chronological order.

But, I'll never do it again. I had this one animation project in my head, and that's yer lot. It was nice to finally get it done after years of thinking about it, but it would never have happened without a lockdown.

So did you you do all the work on Wrong Time, Wrong Space yourself?

My only real collaborator was composer Jon Brooks, who also scored Dark Highlands for me and will also be providing a full orchestral score for the new [version of] One Day Removals.

I knew my animation would be, kinda rudimentary, so Jon really had to bring the whole thing to life with his music, which he did beautifully. The best days for me were hearing his music come in, as I painfully pushed the film forward with maybe four seconds complete each week. Maybe six if I was lucky.

CGI animation is neither easy nor fast. Particularly since I was using some very old equipment to achieve the shots. After all, I didn't know we'd be locked down for months and months, so it's not like I had a CGI workstation sitting waiting, I had to improvise one!

Why film making?

Nobody comes out of the womb a fully fledged creator. What inspired you to set out on the path to making movies?

Avoiding going to prison. My path, as a younger stupider man, wasn't exactly smart or legal. I was going no-where, except probably to prison so I pulled myself together a bit, focused on what I wanted to do, then did it.

Publicity photograph for Mark Stirton's DARK HIGHLANDS

One Day Removals

I think it's fair to say most folk know you for One Day Removals, your 2008 Doric comedy set very firmly in Aberdeen and around. Tell us about how the idea for that came about and how you took that from script to screen.

It took a long time. I wrote the first version in around 1993, but I just couldn't find anyone interested in funding it, so it sat in a folder for a decade. But, little by little, digital technology advanced enough and was affordable enough that I was eventually able to mount a feature film version for around 60 grand. The basic idea never changed, what if two removal men accidentally killed not just one person, but a van load.

A lot of folk were shocked by the language. To me, though, it just reflects the way that folk in the north-east speak at work and in the pub. Was the swearing a conscious decision when you wrote it?

Yes. The screenplay was written in Doric and was full of swearing. It was very much a mission statement. This is the way we are going to do it and it won't change. Unfortunately that was also the path to distribution failure.

I remember at the time it was the sort of movie that people passed between friends and co-workers. It’s a great way to ensure people in the city see the movie. However, it’s probably not the most profitable of distribution methods. Did it ever get a commercial release?

No. The Planet was released commercially, Dark Highlands was released commercially, but the Raindance selected BIFA nominated One Day Removals, was not.

Aberdeen’s film industry

Aberdeen's film making scene is particularly small even while other creative industries in the city are hitting a bit of a moment in the sun. So why do you think Scotland's film industry is stuck in the central belt...even just in terms of filming locations? What do you think can be done to help our industry?

I'm hardly the person to ask. I'm a multi award winning director with distribution deals in America, Japan, France and HBO Europe, but in Aberdeen I am both unemployed and unemployable. You'd be as well asking me how to get a job at ASDA.

Publicity photograph for Mark Stirton's DARK HIGHLANDS

Tell us about your most recent film, the horror Dark Highlands. It's a very different film so you must have experienced a different set of challenges and frustrations.

Very much so. I like to change genres every time I make a new film. Sci-fi, to Comedy to Horror to Animation. Keeps things challenging. In terms of Dark Highlands the most challenging aspect was filming everything in the actual Highlands. Filming miles away from anywhere, with bad weather and midges was not something I'm rushing to do again.

However, as a budget conscious director I was aware of the amazing production values you get from going there. It's not exactly free and it takes plenty of planning, but visually it was worth it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Q8DZAQ5Pws
Trailer for Mark Stirton's 2018 film DARK HIGHLANDS

What do you think motivates you to create?

I'm not sure, but even during the pandemic I was animating away on a new project, so even if I'm alone in a flat, I'll create something!

Is there anything you'd have done differently in your film-making career? What advice would you give to your younger self?

To be honest I kept being surprised that we got anywhere. I was surprised that The Planet sold, I was surprised One Day Removals opened in London at a big fancy festival, so maybe I'd advise myself to have a little faith and not worry so much.

The future

As folk get the vaccine and we can hopefully get on with the next part of our lives, what are you up to? Is there a new movie on the way?

Yes, I'm writing it now. One Day Removals never gained any real popularity outside the North East, so I'm going to try it again only based out of London next time with two English actors. Call it the Lock Stock version.


Find out more

Thanks very much to Mark for his time. It’s fantastic to get an insight into a local industry that perhaps needs no small amount of attention. You can find more about the work of Mark Stirton on his website. If talking directly is more your thing, you can follow him on Twitter.

If you enjoyed this interview, check out our Temp Check with Colin Farquhar from Aberdeen's Belmont Filmhouse Cinema.

You can also watch One Day Removals in full right here!

https://youtu.be/v8NbHYtlaS8

Vagrant Real Estate explores Holy Places

Aberdeen producer Vagrant Real Estate has teamed up with Edinburgh-based singer Misty Galactic for a new track. Released on 23 July, Holy Places is a dark late-night pop single which explores the intense feelings of lust and obsession.

https://youtu.be/ldgM_vXVxC4

Both musicians have enjoyed tremendous praise in the infancy of their careers. Misty Galactic’s previous releases received a wide range of support, including from the Scottish Alternative Music Awards. She ended 2020 on a high with her inclusion on The Herald’s Top 100 tunes of the year. Recently Misty Galactic also landed the coveted Artist of the Week feature in The Scotsman.

Vagrant Real Estate has also received notable coverage. Specifically from the likes of Ministry of Sound, DJ Mag and i-D Magazine. In addition he was also named as one of Vic Galloway’s Top 25 Artists To Watch in 2021

The new track marks the first time that Vagrant Real Estate has worked worked with a singer. As a producer he normally works with rappers. His signature production style combining warm melodies with soap bass and drums is still very much present, though. Holy Places highlights Misty Galactic’s sonic ambition. Her voice commands presence over walls of guitar and synths. The result is a cavernous and carnal anthem to obsession, evoking artists such as BANKS, The Weeknd and Lana Del Rey. 



What the artists say about Holy Places

We asked Vagrant Real Estate how he and Misty got together for the track. Speaking to POST, he told us, "I originally came across Misty's music through blogs as she was picking up press for her first few singles, and really liked her sound and aesthetic. I always want to try and push myself and work on different sounds and styles, so I reached out and she was happy to collaborate.

“Misty Galactic is a great talent, and I couldn’t be happier with how the track came out. From the initial demo I sent through, her songwriting and vocal performance took the whole sound to the next level."

Misty Galactic told us, "It was awesome to get to work with Vagrant Real Estate on this release. The lyrics are all about being so obsessed with someone and having such intense feelings, it all starts to feel like a religious experience. I'd been playing around with them for quite a while, and when he sent me the initial idea for a track, everything just seemed to fit together perfectly. I'm super proud of what we've created."

Vagrant Real Estate | Photo by Chris Sansbury

The effect of COVID on recording music

We wondered whether remote the move to recording has been liberating for artists. Some say it's levelling the playing field, while others tell us it's more difficult for new acts. Vagrant Real Estate thinks it is a bit of both. "I think it's definitely benefited those who have been able to adapt and work effectively with it. I've seen a number of people grow their brand massively. Artists tapping into that new captive audience who were stuck at home, looking for things to watch on social media.

If the quality is there and you have the right push/marketing behind it, people will start to notice.
Vagrant Real Estate

"There's definitely an argument that it's difficult for new acts due to the sheer amount of new music now. You can self-produce and release tracks from your bedroom, but equally the tools are all available and mostly free to network and get your sound out there via social media, websites and the like. If the quality is there and you have the right push/marketing behind it, people will start to notice."

Aberdeen's music scene

Aberdeen's music scene is dominated by rock bands, but other genres are starting to push their way through. We asked about the city's music scene and he sees it. He said, "I think locally and for Scotland in general, there's an abundance of bands. That's what we're typically known for. When I started out producing, pretty much the only other person working in hip-hop in the city was Ransom FA.

"I definitely think now though that hip-hop is coming through. There's a lot of talent in the next generation of artists. I think that ties in with the global shift towards hip-hop as the most popular genre. The main thing Aberdeen needs to compete with the central belt is just infrastructure. In terms of venues, studios and practise spaces we're definitely lacking. Especially when compared to what's available to the artists in Glasgow and Edinburgh."

Vagrant Real Estate | Photo by Chris Sansbury

The future

Wondering what's on the horizon for the Aberdeen producer, he told us, "I've been working on some really exciting collaborations with MCs in London. I've been building those relationships and expanding my sound to incorporate more live instrumentation. Gatson and I are writing the follow-up album to our Holding On EP from Spring this year. I'm also finishing up my next instrumental project - just keeping as busy as possible.

"Once we get a bit closer to normality I'm also keen to put on some events in the city with DJs and performers, providing a platform to showcase the talent we have here."

Our view

Holy Places is a great example of the wealth of talent coming out of Scotland’s next generation of stars. Highlighting both artist’s level of musicianship and versatility, Misty Galactic and Vagrant Real Estate have bright futures ahead of them.

We are extremely keen to support Aberdeen singers, songwriters, bands and producers. Check out The Lounge, a playlists with shines a spotlight on our finest musicians. We update it every Monday so check in regularly.

Holy Places is released on 23 July. You can find Holy Places on your favourite streaming site. You can also keep up to date with the latest on the Aberdeen DJ and producer on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


Aberdeen Art Gallery’s exterior view

British Art Show 9 arrives in Aberdeen

In a major coup for the city, Aberdeen Art Gallery is the opening venue for British Art Show 9. Open from now until 10 October, the free it'll take its place in a massive summer of art and culture in the city.

The British Art Show is an ambitious touring event organised every five years to explore challenging British contemporary art. This year’s show was originally due to take place in 2020 but was delayed due to Covid-19. It's the first time the British Art Show has come to Aberdeen, and only it's second ever visit to Scotland.

https://youtu.be/edS1UodTtpQ

Irene Aristizábal and Hammad Nasar are the curators of the show. They chose artists for each city after travelling to more than 23 locations across the UK as well as meeting over 230 practising artists.

POST will be covering the event throughout the summer; we have loads of things to say about it. In the mean time, get down to Aberdeen Art Gallery and be part of an event that manages to be both challenging and entertaining.

What are the themes of the show?

We think this show is going to be a big deal for the city. Something, like Nuart, that everyone can take part in and explore. Organisers have structured the show around three main themes as it tours the country.

  • Healing, Care and Reparative History
  • Tactics for Togetherness
  • Imagining New Futures

While these themes were agreed prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests of summer 2020, all three have become more relevant in the present moment.

What to expect in Aberdeen

The Aberdeen leg of British Art Show 9 will display over fifteen new artworks never-before seen in the UK. Six of these are brand new commissions. Organisers have focused on the effort to develop alternative systems for ethical cohabitation in the world. Artists will explore the different forms of knowledge we can use to heal the planet. Why we should resist stripping the earth's resources. And finally, how we can develop non-exploitative ways of living with non-humans such as animals or artificial intelligence.

Some of the highlights of the show in Aberdeen include Maeve Brennan's The Goods. This is a series of films, photographs and billboards which explores the trafficking of looted art. Tai Shani will present an exhibit called Neon Hieroglyph. In this installation, fantastic objects – including a pair of floating glass eyes, a huge melting candle and Dracula’s disembodied hand – are accompanied by an otherworldly soundscape.

Perhaps most intriguing of all, Patrick Goddard presents Animal Antics. This is a beautifully shot newly commissioned film featuring a woman and her talking dog.

What you need to know

Where: Aberdeen Art Gallery
When: July 10 - October 10 2021
Opening Hours: Monday 10am-5pm, Tuesday closed, Wednesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm 
Cost: Free

POST will cover British Art Show 9 throughout the summer. We'll take a look at the art and explore the themes. We'll also look at what it means for the city now, and later, it's legacy. We want to know what you think about BAS9 and we’ll ask questions on your behalf. What is contemporary art? Why is it relevant to me? Who pays for it? Is this culture for culture's sake?

Contemporary art is meant to be challenging. Visit BAS9, soak it all in and come away feeling like the artists have asked something of you. In return, you should ask something back. Be vocal about what you saw.

If you would like to know more about British Art Show 9 right now, you can take a look at their website. You can also book your free tickets to the event at Aberdeen Art Gallery as well as check out opening times.


Final artists announced for Aberdeen street art festival

Nuart Aberdeen have announced the final artists for this year's socially distanced event. The Aberdeen street art festival made its long-awaited return the city last week. Local talent Katie Guthrie, aka KMG making a welcome return to her hometown to create the first two murals of the 2021 run.

Henrik Uldalen and duo SNIK are the final artists for Nuart Aberdeen 2021. Organisers have added them to the group of already announced, Helen Burr, KMG and the pioneer of ‘balloon graff’ Fanakapan.

Henrik Uldalen

Henrik is a self-taught artist whose creative production revolves around classic figurative painting, presented in a contemporary manner. He explores the dark sides of life, nihilism, existentialism, longing and loneliness, juxtaposed with fragile beauty. Though he's a figurative painter, his focus has always been the emotional content rather than narratives. Henrik often presents his work with a dream or limbo-like atmosphere. Using elements of surrealism and expressionism.

Internationally acclaimed artists SNIK took part in the 2018 festival. They then created one of the cities most loved murals. ‘Hold Fast Hope’ faces out to the harbour from a wall on Virginia Street. Both are delighted to be returning to Aberdeen. The city hold fond memories for them. They told us, “This is our second visit to Aberdeen and our fourth wall for Nuart. We couldn’t be happier to be painting again this year. We can’t wait to be involved again, up a lift and painting a wall for such a great city.”

SNIK

SNIK combine the creation of hand cut, multilayered stencils with haunting, ethereal portraiture, born from a male/female dual perspective. The duo’s work has been commissioned on walls the world over. Their post-industrial scenes loom large over passers-by in locations as diverse as Miami and Hong Kong.

Away from city streets, the pair have become revered by urban contemporary art collectors in recent years. This is thanks to rare releases of editions that can take up to a year to produce. The smaller scale and intricacy of layered stencil work requires incredibly precise cuts and careful compositional thought. This work has captured the attention of critics, art lovers and collectors alike.

Commenting on the announcement Adrian Watson, Chief Executive of Aberdeen inspired said “The focus this year has been on bringing UK based artists to the city over a period of time which helps to ensure that that we can deliver the productions as safely as possible.

“Henrik Uldalen and SNIK are talented artists who will bring interesting work to the walls of our city.  It’s particularly rewarding when artists want to return to our city as this shows the warmth of the welcome they received first time round.

Nuart Aberdeen is curated and produced by the Stavanger based arts organisation Nuart, spearheaded by Curator and Director Martyn Reed, one of the worlds most respected and critically acknowledged authorities on the culture, he added “Nuart Aberdeen captures the imagination of people in a special way and we leave it to Henrik and SNK to create their art and the hope you the viewer will see something positive in what we’re trying to do.”

A covid safe event

Nuart Aberdeen 2021 has returned as a COVID secure series of individual street art productions which will take shape on the city’s walls throughout June and July. Artists will produce work supported by a local production team during the extended festival period.

With the first two productions complete Aberdeen Inspired are confident the plans for the event ensure the safety of artists, the production team, volunteers, and the public. As a result of covid, elements which would attract large scale gatherings, like the guided tours and public launch will not take place. This is to keep the public safe. Nuart will, however, provide resources and information to allow members of the public to conduct their own self-guided tours. The public can enjoy their tour at a time that suits them. In addition, it will be in accordance with the latest COVID-19 restrictions and regulations.


The Fittie, Aberdeen

Using art and culture to improve life in Aberdeen

Lesley Anne Rose is the co-founder of Open Road, a creative operation based in Aberdeen. They use art and culture to improve health and wellbeing and the local environment. Her work at the Fittie Community Development Trust recently caught our attention. We asked her about Open Road's background, her hopes for the development and how we can build a better future for communities.


At Open Road we believe that culture and creativity inspired by people and place transforms lives. 

The Covid-19 pandemic, movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, as well as the local and global impacts of climate change have sparked turmoil, disruption, re-evaluation and, at times, chaos. The stories we tell about ourselves about the world have been tested and re-written. Long-silent voices are being heard. The push to make the world, and all of our lives, more equitable and sustainable grows ever stronger.

The impacts of these times on the cultural sector have been seismic as social distancing prevents us coming together
Lesley Anne Rose

The motivation, means and momentum for innovation and unstoppable change are all in place. The impact of these times on the cultural sector have been seismic as social distancing prevents us coming together. New ways to distribute and show work open up and deep inequalities within organisational structures and privilege come under scrutiny. Within the drive for change the power of storytelling, the need for creativity and the role of culture in holding space to heal the past, connect in the present and vision for the future has been keenly felt. 

Owning our identity and history

We know that whoever owns our stories, news, art, and culture, also owns our identities and history. Our aspiration is to empower and enable individuals, communities, cities and countries to own their stories, give voice to their visions and take steps towards healthier and more sustainable futures for themselves and each other. 

Our place and believe that the North is a place of ‘other’ where we do things differently to the South. Extremes of light and dark, global oil and the closeness of Scandinavia influence us creatively, socially and economically. All of these factors, along with the need for compassion, have underpinned a new business plan we have spent the last six months creating. This plan is underpinned by our new mission to be a creative, entrepreneurial organisation rooted in North East Scotland (‘the North’), but with a global vision. We use arts, culture, heritage and the natural landscape which contributes towards health and wellbeing, tourism and environmental sustainability. 

When we saw the launch of Creative Scotland’s Culture Collective, we knew that we could use it to make a positive difference to Aberdeen. 

About Culture Collective

Culture Collective is a pilot programme from Creative Scotland. It aims to build a network of creative practitioners, organisations and communities. They'll work together to create a positive difference locally and nationally in response to COVID-19. The programme focuses on community engaged creative activity, supporting projects where creative practitioners and communities work collaboratively. Importantly they are responding to the impact of COVID-19, providing employment opportunities for creatives. They'll actively engage people in shaping the future cultural life of their community.

Photo by Glen Rankin

Open Road is working with the Fittie Community Development Trust (FCDT) a charity established to support the harbour-side community in Aberdeen. The people of Fittie set up the FCDT to buy an old Gospel Hall and develop it as a venue for the wellbeing of residents and benefit of visitors. Wider Trust aims include community development and partnership working. 

Fittie residents are both long-term and recent. In summer Fittie can receive up to 1,000 visitors a week which creates a complex relationships between locals and visitors. Fittie sits at the mouth of a global oil port. Complexity also exists between the heritage of the past. The current reality of a city pivoting away from an economy dependant on oil and gas. And, as a coastal community, the impacts of climate change on the future of the village.

Bringing on creatives to the project

With the aim of addressing the impacts of COVID-19 and wider social, economic and environmental influences on community and city, our project will contract three creative practitioners to each work in residence for up to a year. One will create a programme of creative initiatives and participatory events to bring the Hall and community connections back to life. Another will further a project focusing on stories of migration in Aberdeen, linking with visitors, other communities and Aberdeen harbour. The third will focus on the impacts of climate change for coastal communities and the transition to net-zero carbon emissions. 

Community cohesion, the movement of people and climate change are all inter-linked. Through collectively developed briefs the artists will reach across the generations of residents. Linking these aspects of community heritage with the impacts of the current pandemic and environmental issues with a vision for a new future. The project's focus will be The Hall.

Creatives are being encouraged to work across, but be respectful to the physical footprint of the community and consider practices such as community mapping. Planning will be responsive to on-going COVID-19 guidelines with digital spaces all part of the plan. We're also bringing on an early career creative producer on board to help us deliver the project. 

Telling the Story of Change

One of our aims is to help people, communities and organisations tell their stories and the story of change. Story telling helps us answer questions so we can tackle problems with courage, risk-taking and creativity. Stories connect people to their passions, to shared identify and hope. They bring re-conciliation and an understanding that we are not the same as before, as well as help re-build for a better future. This is needed on individual, collective, organisational and sector levels.

Through our Culture Collective project we aim to tell the story of change within our community and set this against a local, national and global narrative. This will include live events, podcasts, filmed content, story sharing and other creative outputs. We will link our activity with the wider Culture Collective network, Climate Reality Leadership, the road to COP26 and beyond. 

Granite Fittie Community Hall basking in the sunshine, with a blue bicycle in front of it. Markings on front show it was built in 1951.
Photo by Chris Sansbury

In doing so we aim to raise the profile of the cultural sector in Aberdeen and its potential to work with and make a difference to communities. We'll also provide much needed paid opportunities for freelancers within the sector. 

With recruitment in progress, we are right at the start of this journey. We're excited to see how it develops and are looking forward to sharing progress as we go. 


Find out more

Huge thanks to Lesley Ann for taking the time to share her thoughts. You can find out more about Open Road on their website, Twitter and Facebook. Art and culture in Aberdeen is one of the main focuses of POST and we'll check in on this project in the future.

Also, check out our conversation with Ica Headlam. He is an Aberdeen creative who shines a spotlight on the work of many others. His focus on Aberdeen’s artists, musicians and creative businesses put him at the centre of a renaissance of the city's creative scene.


Belmont Cinema prepares to welcome back film fans

Aberdeen's independent cinema is ready to open it's doors after weeks of closure due to Covid restrictions

Cinemas across Scotland reopened on May 17, but the Belmont Filmhouse Cinema in Aberdeen took a little more time to prepare for the their moment to welcome back film fans. Monday 31 May is their big day with moviegoers excited to experience the best in independent cinema. We asked manager Colin Farquhar what to expect.


We’re really excited to come visit again so we thought it was time to check in. If people haven’t visited you since the pandemic started, what should folk expect as they walk in the building with regards to buying tickets, grabbing a coffee and sitting down in their seat?

So essentially it's the same as September for now. Plenty hand sanitiser and queuing systems. People should book in advance if at all possible and pay with card. And in screens they're being kept apart in our pod system, which separates folk into households. Mask wearing in cinemas and foyers is still mandatory unless you're munching on popcorn. We greet everyone at the door and go through the rules with them.

How have your team responded to their return and to what I imagine is a whole host of new training?

Luckily it's much and such the same training as before - just refreshers. We had anticipated some changes to guidance but none really materialized. Everyone has been great and enthusiastic to get back to work, but some anxieties exist of course, which is totally understandable given the circumstance. Although we're nearly there now some of team still aren't vaccinated - we'll be asking customer to bear that in mind as they return.

Is the Belmont opening fully, or are there bits that will stay closed for a little while longer?

We're going to keep the bar closed for now - there's confusing and slightly contradictory guidance around how bars work in cinemas, different rules with spacing, Test and Protect etc. There's the obvious difference that bars are 1m but the cinemas are 2m spacing, but there's also differences around how you serve someone a drink when they're going to the film vs how they are served if they sit in the bar. So we'll feel our way into that. We're also quite skinny on staff at the moment and rules around furlough combined with ongoing tier 3 closure worries bring challenges around recruitment - so we'll keep the bar closed till later in summer when we've assessed how we can meet all those challenges.

What movies are you excited to share with the public over the next few weeks?

FIRST COW. I love Kelly Reichardt. I think I watched Meek's Cutoff twice through lockdown. Masterpiece. So I can't wait to see that and I'd encourage people to do the same. Nomadland is the one selling most tickets at the moment and Chloe Zhao is brilliant. The lineup is great - films have materialized for reopening this time more handily than last year. A lot of these films have been waiting in wings for freedom and screens for nearly 18 months now, so it's great then are finally out there. I think Sound Of Metal for example was finished in 2019.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRUWVT87mt8

Apart from buying tickets, what are some ways that folk can support The Belmont just now?
Just spread the word that we're back! Folk can still buy memberships and we'll be doing a free Student and Young Persons membership when we reopen. This will give students and 16-25 year olds access to £5 films all the time. They can also help by chatting with us - give us feedback; tell us what you want and what you want to see and we'll see what we can do.

The Belmont turned 20 at the tail end of last year, do you have plans to celebrate that milestone at some point in the months ahead?

Oh. I had quite forgotten amidst the pandemic that that particular anniversary had passed. And we've all had so much cake anyway over the past 15 months...we'll see!


And on that cliffhanger, we'd like to thank Colin very much for his time. Don't forget, you can buy tickets for the best in independent cinema from belmontfilmhouse.com, and follow their latest news on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also read our fantastic Temp Check interview with Colin about how he coped with the first part of the Covid-19 lockdown.