St Andrews gearing up for a year of culture

ST Andrews is gearing up for what is being branded a cultural Year of Celebration in 2012.

Plans to unite the town’s huge diversity of artistic talent under the common promotional banner have been boosted by the news that it is on the final shortlist to win a one-off Creative Place Award.

The award - which includes a cash windfall element of £150,000 - is part of the Scottish Government’s Scotland Year of Culture programme and the Fife university town is competing with Irvine and Perth in the category for places with less than 100,000 residents.

The St Andrews bid has been prepared jointly by the Byre Theatre - Scotland’s only five-star arts attraction - and local charity the St Andrews Partnership, with a range of other creative partners also involved.

If eventually successful - the winner will be announced late next month - the Creative Place Award would fund a major new community drama production, entitled MacPherson’s Rant, to be staged by the Byre in 2012.

It would also support a range of collaborative marketing efforts throughout the year and also provide a lasting legacy by creating a new shared administrative office for local cultural organisations.

Jacqueline McKay, chief executive and artistic director of the Byre, said: ”St Andrews has huge potential to enhance its reputation as a vibrant place of arts and culture.

“We are, of course, delighted to have been shortlisted for this major award and are already working to bring business, tourism and cultural programmers together so that - if we are successful - we will be ready to immediately begin promoting and co-ordinating the St Andrews Year of Celebration.”

Patrick Laughlin, manager of the St Andrews Partnership, added: ”2012 is already shaping up to be a memorable year for the town, with one-off occasions such as the university’s 600th anniversary, the Olympic Torch Relay and the World Saxophone Congress bolstering our already-strong annual programme of festivals.

‘‘With all this going on, the name St Andrews Year of Celebration just seemed to suggest itself.

“If we are successful in winning the Creative Place Award, we will use some of the additional funding to help reposition St Andrews in the minds of national and international visitors as being more than simply the Home of Golf.

“The additional expenditure brought by visitors in 2012 will provide added revenue for the arts, helping sustain the town’s cultural programme and civic life for future years.”