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Corporate sponsors help Nairn book and arts festival unlock new funding

By Calum MacLeod

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Storm, the 10-metre tall puppet operated by eight puppeteers, will make a special appearance in Nairn as part of this year's Book and Arts Festival. Picture: Neil Hanna Photography
Storm, the 10-metre tall puppet operated by eight puppeteers, will make a special appearance in Nairn as part of this year's Book and Arts Festival. Picture: Neil Hanna Photography

Essential support from three new corporate sponsors has enabled Nairn Book and Arts Festival to successfully apply to Culture and Business Fund Scotland (CBFS) for the first time.

The support from headline sponsor AES Solar and associate sponsors Fred Olsen Renewables and Nairn’s Oatcakes has enabled the festival to secure matched funding of £3500.

This takes the total of additional funding secured by the festival up to £7000 – which organisers have welcomed as a huge injection of much-needed financial support a year after the festival had to cancel its live events due to Covid-19.

This is also the first time the festival has successfully attracted three internationally-recognised companies as festival sponsors, further cementing its reputation as one of the key cultural events in the Scottish Highlands.

This year’s festival has a strong environmental theme, Close to Nature’s Heart, leading ist organisers to focus on attracting sponsors with a strong track record on sustanability and corporate social responsibility.

This year's Nairn Book and Arts Festival will have a mix of live and online events.
This year's Nairn Book and Arts Festival will have a mix of live and online events.

Festival chairman Alex Williamson said: “We are incredibly grateful for the support for this year’s festival – not just from these high-profile companies, but also from Culture and Business Fund Scotland. The sponsorship income and matched funding will certainly help the festival to bounce back after last year’s cancellation, bringing a welcome return to live literature and arts events in the Scottish Highlands.“

George Goudsmit, managing director of AES Solar, said: “Supporting events on our doorstep such as the Nairn Book and Arts Festival has always been a cause close to our hearts while also aligning closely with our company goals and values.

"We believe supporting events like this that give back to the local community is more important than ever after the past year. It’s also perhaps unsurprising that as a renewable energy company we identify strongly to the festival theme of Close to Nature’s Heart in acknowledgement of the forthcoming COP26 climate change conference in November.

"Therefore we were delighted to offer our support as headline sponsor to this fantastic local event championing literature, art, music, drama, and film in the Scottish Highlands. The whole team here at AES Solar cannot wait to see the inspiring events, speakers and exhibitions that come out of this year’s festival.”

Mark Laing, chairman of Nairn’s Oatcakes, commented: “Nairn’s Oatcakes take part in a number of activities, shows and festivals around Scotland, and more widely across the UK, to promote the name of the company and the range of products it markets.

"At Nairn’s Oatcakes we believe that it is important to encourage organisations and festivals which make the arts as accessible as possible to as many people as possible in Scotland and is true to our ethos of supporting local communities.”

Finley Becks-Phelps, UK development director of Fred Olsen Renewables, added: ”Fred Olsen Renewables is really pleased to be supporting the Nairn Book and Arts Festival. We are committed to working with the communities and stakeholders neighbouring our wind farm projects. Our participation enables us to engage with even more local residents whilst supporting this fantastic community initiative.”

The CBFS fund was established by the Scottish Government to foster cross-sector partnerships and encourage and support new businesses to invest in or sponsor arts and heritage organisations over up to three years.

Under the terms of the CBFS scheme, arts or heritage organisations in Scotland that successfully secure between £1000 and £40,000 in cash or in kind sponsorship from a corporate sponsor in one financial year.

David Watt, chief executive of Arts & Business Scotland, said: “We are delighted to see so many individual businesses in and around Nairn taking advantage of the fantastic opportunity provided by Culture Business Fund Scotland Covid-19 Recovery & Renewal Strand to invest in the arts and culture sector in their region.

"By partnering with Nairn Book and Arts Festival, AES Solar, Fred Olsen Renewables and Nairn’s Oatcakes are boosting the cultural tourism profile of the area, encouraging more visitors and ‘staycationers’ to spend even more time on the ground (and overnight) which supports the local economy and help bring the local community together.”

Nairn Book and Arts Festival will run from Saturday, September 4, to Sunday, September 12.

Authors and other other guests participating this year include award-winning historical novelist SG MacLean, undercover detective turned thriller writer Neil Lancaster, Inverness-shire author and journalist Cal Flyn, whose most recent book Islands of Abandonment has been shortisted for the Wainwright Prize for nature writing, and musicians Mike Vass and Innes Watson.

Visit www.nairnfestival.co.uk to find out more.

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