Search begins for new owner of The Belmont

Exciting developments are underway for the Belmont Cinema. An Aberdeen City Council committee has given the green light to begin the search for a new operator for the beloved independent cinema.

The Council commissioned a feasibility report from cinema specialists Mustard Studio. They suggested options to establish a sustainable cultural cinema program, drawing on successful examples from similar operations elsewhere.

A diverse film program

The report identified several critical factors for success. These include prioritising the customer experience, offering a diverse film program that appeals to local audiences, providing quality food and beverages, and making necessary improvements to the building.

With the approval from the Council, the next step involves inviting potential operators to outline their proposed solutions. They will also be asked demonstrate their competence in operating the cinema sustainably. This process will also assess the capital requirements of each operator's model.

By the community, for the community

Our friends at the Save the Belmont Campaign expressed their delight at the Council's decision. They believe that a cinema run "by the community, for the community" is the best option for ensuring the long-term sustainability of an arthouse cinema in Aberdeen.

Their statement was clear on the challenges saying: "We're not oblivious to the scale of the challenge ahead of us, to modernise the building and continue to grow and welcome audiences back to the cinema. But we will endeavour to produce a robust business plan that will put education, information, entertainment and the community at the heart of the future of the Belmont."

Breathe life into The Belmont

Seeking a new operator through market testing will hopefully secure a vibrant future for the Belmont Cinema. This iconic venue holds great cultural significance in the city. The right partner must share the vision of creating an outstanding independent cinema experience for the community.

The Council's commitment to exploring options and involving the community in the decision-making is a smart move. It demonstrates a dedication to preserving and enhancing Aberdeen's cultural landscape. This will ensure that residents and visitors can enjoy the magic of cinema in a unique and sustainable setting.

The team here at POST hopes that a suitable operator will be found. Someone who not only appreciates the heritage of the Belmont Cinema but also has the expertise and passion to breathe life into this cherished cultural venue.

The Ayetanic set sail this week…and what a voyage!

The Aberdeen Student Show is an annual theatrical event bringing together students from the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University. The tradition has grown to become a highlight of the local arts scene. It attracts audiences from across the North East and beyond.

Each year, the show is produced entirely by students, including the cast, crew, and orchestra. They work together tirelessly and always create an entertaining production. The show's success is a testament to Aberdeen's student community's passion, dedication, and creativity. It's a celebration of the city's unique humour and perspective.

Northsound presenter Jeff Diack jumped on board for the opening performance of this year’s show, Ayetanic. It is safe to say, he had an amazing voyage.

For 101 years the cast of the Aberdeen Student Show has been treading the boards of HMT.

This year's tale, Ayetanic, loosely follows the story of the Titanic whilst poking fun at the cooncil, the doric dialect, and of course, Stuarty Milne, and it is absolutely fantastic.

I’ve lost count of the number of shows I have seen over the years but can genuinely say this year's is one of the funniest. The jokes come at you thick and fast. The parody songs are brilliant, and the chemistry between the entire ensemble just sparkles.

Ayetanic - A seat at the Captain's table

As the Ayetanic sets sail from the new Aberdeen Harbour on its maiden voyage to Banff. There’s drama and deceit, a love story, and several wee subplots that keep the laughs flowing. (Bert WILL die a happy man)

The entire cast deserves a seat at the Captain's table in the First Class Lounge. Still, Emma Chibesakunda and Luke McKerron deserve a special mention for their roles as Suki Sweetie and Jock for the stunning vocals and the cheeky grin alone.

Ayetanic runs at HMT until Saturday 22nd April and the remaining tickets are extremely limited. Get yourself doon the Box Office before you miss the boat.

The Fittie, Aberdeen

Exploring the Fittie from the past into the future with Lesley Anne Rose

With a new exhibition, Fittie, Past, Present and Possibility taking place this weekend, we caught up with Lesley Anne Rose of Open Road. We wanted to get her insight into the project and what to expect. As a seasoned producer and writer, she has a diverse background in producing community projects like this.

Open Road is a hard working Aberdeen creative production team. They have a real passion for collaborating and creating projects that celebrate people, place, and sustainability. The company was founded by Lesley Anne and Alison Louise Merrett who shared an interest in community engagement, arts, and culture.

As a team, they focus on producing diverse and inclusive projects that positively impact communities. Their work spans art forms, including theatre, festivals, and community events. They also engage in research, in heritage projects, and in initiatives related to climate change and sustainability.

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

Can you tell us more about the Safe Harbour Open Sea project?

Safe Harbour Open Sea is a Culture Collective project, a national fund. It is aimed at establishing a network of creative practitioners, organisations and communities, working together to create a positive difference locally and nationally in response to COVID-19.

Open Road applied to be part of Culture Collective and for this project. We are working in partnership with the Fittie Community Development Trust (FCDT). They are a charitable organisation established to support the harbourside community of Footdee, known by its Scots language name of Fittie. The FCDT lead the development of the accessible, community-owned Gospel Hall as a community hub to improve the well-being of residents.

Through Safe Harbour Open Sea we aimed to bring culture into the heart of the community. We wanted to help breathe life back into the Community Hall as it re-opened post-lockdown and underwent a large-scale renovation. We also wanted to gather some of the stories of the past of the community and turn an eye to the future by putting on events and stimulating action around the future of Fittie in the face of a changing climate.

What is the inspiration behind the Fittie Past, Present & Possibility exhibition?

Fittie Past, Present & Possibility brings together all of the strands of work and activity are undertaken over the past eighteen months of Safe Harbour Open Sea. We were determined to end the project well for the sake of the community, artists, funders and Open Road. Also to showcase what the project has achieved and the wider scope of Culture Collective. We're also keen to enable the harbour area of Aberdeen to find its voice beneath the noise of oil and gas. Aberdeen Harbour has a rich history, vibrant present and important future. Communities and individuals linked with the harbour need to find their voice, especially with the Tall Ships on the way in 2025.

Fittie from the Beach | Photo by Chris Sansbury

How has Fittie’s history and heritage influenced the creative projects and podcasts initiated by Safe Harbour Open Sea?

An example of how Fittie’s history and heritage have influenced this project is the work of Aberdeenshire artist Victoria Fifield. She interviewed current and former Fittie residents of varying ages and backgrounds and transformed their stories into a book. Sea Change: Stories From Footdee and Voices of Footdee is an audio trail which invites visitors to listen to residents talk about life in the village's past and present as they explore the area. Fittie receives a large number of visitors each year and Victoria’s work has enabled residents to share their stories of Fittie, past, present and hopes for the future, in their own words.

Through our Harbour Voices Podcast, we’ve given voice to the past by interviewing people such as Ross MacLennan, History Curator at Aberdeen Archives, Gallery and Museums and Katy Kavanagh, Senior Archivist at Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Achieves.

What are some of the ways that Fittie has been a unique sea-facing community, nestled against a global oil port?

The first recorded reference to the area of Fittie was in 1398. There has been a settlement here since Medieval times. The village standing today was built in the 19th century and is a former fishing community. It was designed by John Smith, the architect responsible for Balmoral Castle.

On a map dated 1828, the newly built Fittie Squares and surrounding area were referred to as ‘Fish Town’. All of Fittie’s houses are built in squares and face inwards with their backs towards the sea. This both protects residents from storms but also creates a strong sense of community. The very architecture of the village is quite special. Added to that Fittie is a village, but is classed as an urban area and separated from Aberdeen city centre by a large industrial area incorporating the harbour.

Tom, Dick and Harry | Photo by Chris Sansbury

You’ve spoken about the idea of “Good Ancestors.” I’m really interested in that. Could you elaborate on that concept? Tell us how it relates to the future of Fittie as a coastal community?

Safe Harbour Open Sea aimed to capture the story of Fittie's past and present, but also extend the village’s story into a possible future. We created a Map of Possibility for residents to add to what they would like to see in the village in the future. We asked the question ‘What do we need to do now to ensure we are good ancestors?’

This question is inspired by public philosopher Roman Krznaric’s book ‘The Good Ancestor.’ In this he encourages long-term thinking in a world that is increasingly dominated by short-termism as we scramble to reply to the latest social media post or keep up to speed with 24-hour news.

Krznaric invites us to travel back in time seven generations and imagine speaking with our ancestors. Sharing with them the decisions we would like them to make to ensure a fair healthy future world. He then invites us to imagine the generations that stand before us to step back to our time and tell us what actions we need to take to ensure we will be remembered well for taking care of the community, city, nation and world.

Fittie is seven generations old. Some houses in the village have been in the same family for those seven generations. It’s the perfect place to feel the presence of generations past and present and possible future.

How will the Fittie Past, Present & Possibility exhibition explore Fittie’s relationship with the sea and its history as an embarkation point for emigrating Scots?

Fittie is surrounded by water on three sides and the sea is a constant presence. Although no longer part of a fishing community, residents today maintain a strong connection to the sea and the village is home to several surfers, paddle boarders and wild swimmers. Residents refer to a daily awareness of the tides, which along with the regular arrivals and departures of the NorthLink ferries to and from Orkney and Shetland, mark out a different sense of time. Many people arrive to and depart from Aberdeen by sea, whether on NorthLink ferries, supply ships servicing the oil rigs or any of the other thousands of vessels that seek and leave safe harbour here.

Our Harbour Voices podcasts, which also feature in this exhibition, have given voice to Fittie’s relationship with the sea and harbour. For example, Fittie residents have traditionally volunteered for the Lifeboat Service or the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) as it’s known today. We’ve interviewed Andy Haines, a Fittie resident and RNLI volunteer who’s shared a behind-the-scenes insight into life as an RNLI volunteer and the adrenaline rush of heading out on rescue during Storm Arwen. 

Fittie from Torry | Photo by Chris Sansbury

At the time Fittie was being built in the 19th century, Aberdeen Harbour was an embarkation port for emigrants leaving North East Scotland. Another of our Harbour Voices podcasts is with Professor Marjory Harper a Scottish historian with a focus on social history and emigration from the North East. She explained that the reason Aberdeen became an embarkation port was because of the trade in timber being imported into the harbour and North East Scotland via the St. Lawrence Seaway and Maritime Provinces in Eastern Canada.

Owners of the sailing ships that made the voyages across the Atlantic were also looking for paying cargo on the return journey. Emigrants to North America became just that. Around fifteen and half thousand emigrants left North East Scotland from Aberdeen harbour to make the 12-week journey by sea to a new life and new home. Mainly in North America.

How do community halls and similar spaces play their part in access to and participation in the cultural life of the city? 

We believe culture should be at the heart of communities. Community halls are an important part of this belief. They offer people a ‘third space’ in their lives. A space separate from home and the workplace where they can gather, socialise and engage in leisure and cultural activities. Access to these spaces has a positive impact on health and well-being and helps to forge cohesive, resilient communities.

A key part of Safe Harbour Open Sea was to help breathe life back into the Fittie Community Hall post a period of lockdown imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic. As well as asking what Fittie residents thought of their community hall and what they wanted it used for. Cultural events came out top.

Can you tell us more about the Culture Collective Scotland project? How does Safe Harbour Open Sea play its part?

Culture Collective is a network of 26 participatory arts projects, shaped by local communities alongside artists and creative organisations. Safe Harbour Open Sea is one of these 26 projects. Funded by Scottish Government emergency COVID-19 funds through Creative Scotland, these projects are taking place across Scotland from March 2021-October 2023. From Shetland to Inverclyde, Aberdeen to Hawick, each unique project is designed and driven by the community in which it is rooted, playing an important part in shaping the future cultural life of Scotland.

For the projects themselves, the Culture Collective provides a network: opportunities to share resources, learning and experiences. For the cultural sector as a whole, the Culture Collective shines a light on the crucial importance of participatory arts projects for artists, for communities and for the future.

Fittie 200 year celebrations | Photo by Chris Sansbury

And finally, what’s the most important lesson learned over your time working with the Fittie Community Trust?

Working at a hyper-local community level has changed my view of culture, who has access to it, and its potential to contribute towards health and wellbeing, tackling social isolation and the importance of communities knowing and owning the stories of our past, present and possible futures. Don’t take our word for it. Talk to people involved and who have participated. Their voices are more important than ours.

Thanks so much to Lesley Anne for sharing her insight. The show, Fittie, Past, Present and Possibility takes place at the Fittie Community Hall on New Pier Road. Opening hours on Saturday and Sunday are between 10 am and 3 pm. Entry is free.

If you have a project coming up that you'd like to share with our readers, please get in touch. We're keen to hear what you're up to.

Rise Up! returns to celebrate Black and People of Colour creatives

Rise Up!, a two-day festival celebrating Black and People of Colour creatives in Aberdeen and Scotland, will return next month. The festival takes place on 5th - 6th May. It'll be hosted at the Music Hall and The Lemon Tree and is curated by We Are Here Scotland, commissioned by Aberdeen Performing Arts.

Rise Up! is a celebration of unity, creativity, and expression. It promises to be a bit of a feast for the senses with an exciting program of events. The festival will showcase the talents of Black and People of Colour creatives from Scotland and beyond. The festival's events will begin with a keynote speech from Yahya Barry, a leader and consultant in culture, heritage and the creative and screen industries.

Rise Up! Festival Poster

Rise Up! features diverse performances

One of the festival's highlights is a cabaret kicking off the weekend's performances on Friday, 5th May. The event features diverse performances. These include poetry from acclaimed Scottish writer and performer Courtney Stoddart, a comedy set by the hilarious Safeena Rashid, and a dance piece by international talent Dorine Mugisha.

Rise Under debuts on Saturday, 6th May. It's a new strand of the festival aimed at 12-17-year-olds. It will include workshops exploring filmmaking, music, and screenprinting, hosted by rising Aberdeen musician Chef the Rapper, film practitioner Sara Stroud, and visual artists Caitlin Dick and Phoebe McBride. There will also be an Open Mic showcasing new talent in music, spoken word, poetry, and creative expression, hosted by Aberdeen poet and spoken word artist Mae Diansangu.

Workshops and panels

Rise Up! also offers workshops with decolonisation and pro-liberation coach Ravideep Kaur, and widely published writer Andrés N. Ordorica, who will explore the power of friendship in 'An Ode to Friendship'. The festival will host a series of panels exploring important and thought-provoking themes. This will include discussions on mental health and well-being, generational experiences, and uncomfortable conversations in safe spaces.

The festival will conclude with a night of music at The Lemon Tree, featuring pop/R&B girl group 4TUNE, singer-songwriter Rue Cooper, musician and singer Djana Gabrielle, and Aberdeen-based Iranian DJ Pooyan Saadati.

Loved Seeds

Finally, in a new initiative to support Black and People of Colour artists in Scotland, We Are Here Scotland has collaborated with Look Again to celebrate the launch of their upcoming exhibition 'Loved Seeds'. Poet Noon Eldin and artist Helen Love will host a performance combining clay, poetry, and projection to create a three-dimensional family tree of the nine children of an enslaved woman from 1832 Jamaica.

We Are Here Scotland founder and director Ica Headlam said: “I'm pleased that for another year We Are Here Scotland is working in partnership with our friends at Aberdeen Performing Arts to produce our second Rise Up Festival. Last year we were able to provide a platform for a multitude of artists and creatives from our community. And this year's festival is a continuation of everything we developed last year, whilst also highlighting the importance of providing a platform for Black and PoC artists and creatives from the North East of Scotland and further afield.”

Overall, Rise Up! sounds like it'll be even bigger and better than last year, with an exciting program of events that celebrates the creativity and diversity of Black and People of Colour creatives in Scotland and beyond.

#SaveCulture - We MUST protect Aberdeen's vital cultural programme

Aberdeen City Council faces a considerable funding shortfall, posing a significant challenge. Various proposed solutions have been suggested, including a drastic reduction in the cities cultural budget. This will inevitably result in the disappearance of many of the city's events.

It's time we made the call to #SaveCulture in Aberdeen.

In recent years, few things have brought the city together more than its exceptional festivals. Aberdeen is a vibrant city with a rich cultural heritage that can only reach its full potential with a well-funded cultural programme. Nurturing our culture requires passion, hard work, and healthy financial support.

Participating in cultural activities lets people feel connected to others and feel a sense of belonging.

Cultural events and activities improve people's well-being by providing a sense of community, reducing isolation, and promoting mental health. Participating in cultural activities lets people feel connected to others and feel a sense of belonging. Additionally, cultural activities such as dance, music, and theatre can provide therapy and help people express themselves creatively.

Spectra | Photo by Susan Strachan

Essential for wellbeing, business, diversity and jobs

Festivals and cultural events attract visitors from around the country and the world. This brings in desperately-needed revenue for local businesses, hotels, and restaurants. In addition, cultural institutions such as museums, galleries, and theatres create jobs and contribute to the local economy. Investing in cultural programmes supports a cultural tourism industry and bolsters our local economy.

The city's cultural programme provides opportunities for people from different backgrounds to come together and celebrate our diversity. Providing a platform for people to share their cultural traditions and practices promotes understanding and appreciation of other cultures. This leads to a more inclusive society.

Investing in cultural programmes supports a cultural tourism industry and bolsters our local economy

Cultural programmes provide educational opportunities for people of all ages, allowing them to learn about different cultures, histories, and art forms. This promotes learning and creates a more informed and engaged community. By investing in cultural programmes, the city can provide opportunities for its residents to learn and grow, which can help to improve our quality of life.

Aberdeen Art Gallery’s exterior view
Aberdeen Art Gallery | Photo by Chris Sansbury

How can you join the call to #SaveCulture

We've listed a few things you can do to convince Aberdeen City Council that cutting its cultural budget is not the solution that some may think it might be. No decisions have been made yet, but this will be discussed TOMORROW, so now is the time to take action.

  1. Contact your councillors. Visit the WriteToThem website and enter your postcode to find out who your representatives are. Then, go to the Aberdeen City Council website for their email addresses. Compose a brief email to them all expressing dissatisfaction with any proposal to cut the budget and explain why. Don't forget to include your home address. This lets them know you are a constituent.
  2. Sign the online petition at, leaving a personalised message of support.
  3. Use the hashtag #SaveCulture to share your thoughts on social media. Specifically, share some of your favourite events from recent years and explain why these events are significant to you.
  4. Share this article and spread the word on the value and importance of the cultural program in Aberdeen. You can help #SaveCulture in your city!

A well-funded cultural programme is crucial for Aberdeen. Promoting diversity, boosting the economy, enhancing education, and improving well-being create a more vibrant and thriving community. Investment in cultural programmes makes the city a cultural destination. The alternative is empty theatres, creative spaces and galleries. This would inescapably lead to more empty shops, cafes and restaurants. Let's work together to #SaveCulture.

Aberdeen Mela