A CHARITY is hitting the road for a series of special events across the Highlands and Islands to promote greater collaboration between arts organisations and business.

Arts & Business Scotland’s Highlands and Islands road show follows the recent launch of the Culture & Business Fund Scotland. Funded by the Scottish Government via Creative Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland, the fund is designed to promote collaboration between the cultural and business sectors by matching business sponsorship of cultural activities pound for pound.

Between 2006 and 2017, the fund’s predecessor, the New Arts Sponsorship Grants Programme successfully invested almost £1 million across 44 individual arts and heritage projects throughout the Highlands and Islands. Arts & Business Scotland is now seeking to build on that successful legacy by encouraging the region’s cultural and business communities to apply for funding from the Culture & Business Fund Scotland.

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A public opinion poll commissioned earlier this year by Arts & Business Scotland to coincide with the launch of the new Fund illustrates the potential benefits to business of sponsoring cultural projects. The poll found that a majority of Scots would be more likely to buy goods and services from businesses that support arts and heritage projects in their local area.

At the same time, with public budgets under continued pressure, business sponsorship is becoming an increasingly important source of funding for cultural organisations. A recent Arts & Business Scotland survey of cultural organisations from across Scotland found that, while most recognise the growing importance of partnering with businesses, a majority still find it challenging to forge such partnerships.

Arts & Business Scotland began its Highlands and Islands tour last week with a visit to the Rockfield Centre in Oban with a workshop providing local arts organisations with guidance about the fund.

Next stop on will be the Western Isles where head of programmes Carl Watt will lead special workshops for local cultural organisations at the Dark Island Hotel in Benbecula on Monday and at arts hub An Lanntair in Stornoway on Tuesday. These workshops will be followed by a special dinner being hosted by Highlands and Islands Enterprise for the local business community, where Watt will speak about the charity’s work, the benefits to Western Isles businesses of sponsoring local cultural projects and the opportunity to access match funding for such sponsorship through the Culture & Business Fund Scotland.

Following the Western Isles, the roadshow will move on to Inverness for another workshop on November 3. Additional workshops are planned in Orkney and Shetland in early 2018.

Watt said: “We’re really excited to be going out on the road across the Highlands and Islands to promote the huge benefits the Culture & Business Fund Scotland potentially has to offer. There has never been a better time for the region’s cultural and business communities to work together for mutual benefit and to help make even more exciting cultural projects happen.

“Delivering £1 million of new cultural projects that would otherwise not have happened. We are keen to build on that success with the recently launched Culture & Business Fund Scotland.”