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Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) project to unlock Highland heritage potential; XpoNorth heritage project has support from Historic Environment Scotland, among others


By Calum MacLeod


HIE's head of creative industries, Iain Hamilton.
HIE's head of creative industries, Iain Hamilton.

MUSEUMS and heritage organisations across the region are being offered help to get creative in a new initiative led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The programme, XpoNorth Heritage, will support organisations and businesses with an adviser to help them develop innovative new ideas and introduce them to creative businesses in the region to find new ways of sharing their stories.

This could be through virtual reality experiences, exhibition design, poetry, craft sales, music festivals or book publishing.

The initiative follows the success of similar projects, such as at the Calanais Visitor Centre on Lewis where cutting-edge digital technology is being used to map out buried features at the site, creating a digital interactive experience.

The new £41,000 project is supported by HIE, Museums Galleries Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Creative Scotland, and is being piloted for a year.

The project is developed through the HIE-funded XpoNorth, which provides a range of all-year round support programmes for creative talent throughout the region, including its annual two-day programme of conferences, workshops and film and music showcases, which this year takes place on June 24 and 25 in Inverness.

Iain Hamilton, head of creative industries at HIE, said: “We recognise the essential role heritage plays in economic success. Last year’s XpoNorth conference and showcase attracted plenty of interest in the heritage sector, focusing on getting the stories held by museums to a wider audience and it was clear that there is demand to continue this engagement.

“There are a wealth of stories rich in heritage that can be turned into innovative content, attracting new audiences to their work, encouraging tourism and opening new revenue streams. XpoNorth Heritage will help unlock the potential by linking the organisations with creative businesses to help them work with the latest technology.”

Nicola Henderson from Nairn has been recruited as project co-ordinator.

She is encouraging museums and anyone working in heritage to send in enquiries, via the XpoNorth website, for advice or help.

Lucy Casot, chief executive officer for Museums Galleries Scotland, said: “We are delighted to support this new and innovative programme, helping to bring together museums and heritage organisations with creative businesses, to explore and develop new and exciting ways to tell our stories to a wider audience, which will help strengthen tourism in the region and generate additional streams of funding.”

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