Putting creativity at heart of Fife economy

Kirkcaldy Carnival
Kirkcaldy Carnival

Creative arts in Scotland contributed more to the country’s economy than the oil and gas industry.

Growing numbers of people were being employed in the creative field, with Fife among the highest this side of the border.

'The Little Mermaid' panto at the Adam Smith Theatre

'The Little Mermaid' panto at the Adam Smith Theatre

These little-known facts were shared by cultural chiefs in Fife after a year of operation which saw books, films, exhibitions and other attractions with a truly international flavour being showcased in the Kingdom.

Fife Cultural Trust has just issued its annual report, which covered its first full year in operation from April 1, 2013 to March 31 last year.

The report was delivered at last Wednesday’s meeting of Fife Council’s Kirkcaldy area committee by FCT chief executive Heather Stuart and board chairman Stuart Cross – while also contributing were two key players in the Fife Youth Arts Hub – project assistant Jennifer Durie, and Lewis Clennan, who is also a media marketing apprentice with the Trust.

The annual report was sub-headed ‘Our Year In Numbers’, featuring a statistical round-up of events, visitor numbers, attendance figures, plus more in-depth reflections on major highlights such as the Fife International Carnival, the Jazz and Science festivals, Christmas pantomimes, film screenings, National Theatre live presentations, the reopening of the £2.5 million refurbished Kirkcaldy Galleries, and more.

People used to travel to events & shows. Now they are staying local

Forthcoming glittering attractions include the next Fife International Carnival on July 18, followed by the Youth Arts Hub’s FestON15 event on August 1, and the Kirkcaldy Film Festival from September 19-21, which may be launched with a gala screening of ‘Jaws’ – at the Promenade, for added atmosphere.

Heather Stuart said “grasping the challenge” of bringing together all the services now delivered by the Trust was a major highlight of its year.

Stand-out memories included the success of Christmas shows and pantos, with over 20 schools coming along during the season, to add to large audience numbers, while cinema offerings saw a 17 per cent rise in attendance, alongside National Theatre live events, featuring actors like David Tennant and Helen Mirren.

The re-opening of the Galleries, graced by such local figures as Gordon Brown, Val McDermid and Jack Vettriano, brought 7000 people through the doors over the first weekend, with around 162,500 since then.

Through its library services, added Heather, the Trust was proud to be able to help people with job seeking and employment skills, while book issues and PC use were on the rise.

“With things that, historically, people had to go much further afield to see, we’ve started turning that around so that people are coming here, to the likes of Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes and Dunfermline,” added Heather.

“That’s what the ambition should be.”

People often wondered what it did for the economy, added Heather – the fact was it often helped people on the path to job skills and careers.

“It’s more than just the experiences that people are consuming – it’s about creating futures,” she said.

Heather added the Trust was very focused on improvements: “It’s easy to rattle figures off but you can get underneath them and see what improvements, of practical use, could be made.”