Category Archives: membership

September Member News

BIG ABERDEEN EVENT ON 22 SEPTEMBER 2014: There is still time to register to attend, see website for all the details.

EUROPEAN RESEARCHERS NIGHT,  26 SEPTEMBER 2014: See website for details of ‘Explorathon’ events – lots are free but some do require advance booking.

VISUAL ARTIST AND CRAFT MAKER AWARDS 2015: In a partnership with Creative Scotland, Aberdeen City Council has established two award schemes as a means of assisting individual artists and makers who reside in Aberdeen city. Funds can help towards activities that are integral to the practitioner’s personal and professional development, such as the immediate costs of researching, creating and presenting new work or advancing skills, technical ability and ideas. For further details on how to apply for up to £1,500 of funding please follow this link.  NB: Deadlines 30.11.14 & 21.02.15 and there is a Drop-In Session at Seventeen on the 25th October, 10:00 am – 14:00 pm.

FESTIVAL OF LIGHT ARTIST RESIDENCY PROGRAMME: Aberdeen City Council are holding an open call for an arts organisation, or partnership of organisations, to run the residency programme as part of Spectra: Aberdeen’s Festival of Light, in February 2015.   A budget of £50,000 is available to the successful organisation.Deadline for application is 5pm Monday 29th September. For further information, please contact (Elspeth Winram), or call 01224 644885, or visit the website.

JOB OPPORTUNITY: NESCOL  are looking for a lecturer in Performing Arts – deadline 19.09.14, follow this link for further details.

EXHIBITIONS: As featured in previous AB+ events news from Louise Steadman and Shelagh Swanson.
Breathless Breastless: Following the success of our first exhibition in June we are delighted to be exhibiting until Friday 3 October at The Arts Centre & Theatre King Street 3 Aberdeen. We are proud to have recently exhibited at Clariant, Dyce and have also been invited to take a small exhibition to The Saltaire Festival, Bradford where we will be exhibiting at Vicars Cafe for 10 days from 13th September. For more information see website.
OIL & GLASS: ‘In Bloom’, new works by resident artist Hannah Beresford from 13 September until 1 October.

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Our next free Cultural Conversation takes place on Thursday 16 January 2014 @ACT Aberdeen from 6.30pm (event rescheduled from 5 December). Presenters include Oil and Glass Gallery and Workshop, Jazz Scotland and SHMU FM.

If you want to make new connections in the cultural sector then why not join in and present? Maybe you are an artist, musician, designer, sculptor, dancer or animator with a new idea or a project that needs a partner. If you would like to present just send an e-mail to and we will get back to you with further details. Alternatively if you just want to come along and watch, do some cultural ‘speed dating’ and enjoy the complimentary drinks and snacks then just drop an e-mail to or simply come along on the night.


Our Business with Business, Thursday 6 February, 7pm

Meet the Media, Thursday 20 March, lunchtime event

AB+ AGM, Thursday 8 May, 7pm

These events are free with thanks to support from BP & Aberdeen City Council’s Cultural Fund.

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Cultural Conversations Know Your Place Report

Know Your Place, QueenAB+ logo ’s Cross Church 4th November 2013 7pm

Billed as the first of six upcoming ‘Cultural conversations’, led by the city’s newest cultural driving force, AB+, the evening promised to be a lively night of debate where individuals from across the arts, cultural, political and business sectors talked about place making, under the title of ‘Know your place’.

This blog is an edited and distilled version of some of the key points of the evening and represents an overview of what took place and some of the questions and comments that were put forward on the night.

Chaired by Jane Spiers, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts the event ran to a question time style format with questions from the floor.

The panel members for the evening were Professor Ferdinand Von Prodzynski, principal of RGU and author of a recent paper on an Aberdeen City Centre regeneration strategy, Catrin Jeans, a practising artist based at Deveron Arts in Huntly and Barney Crockett, Labour leader of Aberdeen City Council.

Jane opened proceedings by asking each panel member for their thoughts on the topic and what each panellists view was on Aberdeen as a ‘place’.  Barney responded that Aberdeen is unique in the UK with regards to its peoples ‘sense of place’ however this had completely changed with the advent of oil finds off the coast which in turn gave Aberdeen an even more exceptional outlook and has been responsible for a dramatic speed of change in the region both culturally and demographically.

Jane as chair noted that it sometimes feels like Aberdeen is more connected to the rest of the world than it is to the central belt, this comment being acknowledged by the audience with a swathe of knowing sighs.

Practising artist Catrin explained that in Huntly, where she is part of a series of community based projects looking at teasing out artistic ventures in partnership with the community, explained that the focus of using the town as the venue had opened up creative experiences in Huntly for many who would not normally engage in the arts, and gave artists and residents an unlimited canvas on which to develop arts and cultural projects and participation.

The first question of the evening put to the panel centred on heritage and history and the part this plays in establishing a sense of ‘place’.  It was suggested that we as a city don’t recognise and/or celebrate our heritage as much as we should.

Barney felt that we could be at the debate all night if started to go into the city’s fabulous history and acknowledged that yes, we could speak more about our historical and more recent achievements.

Catrin noted that at  Deveron they work within the history context and identity of town while professor Von Prodzynski spoke about history playing a hugely significant part in defining communities and, in turn, the city’s cultural output.

An audience member fielded a question to the panel about the great ‘Aberdeen culture myth’ and in particular the regions inability to support and nurture emerging artists or indeed established practitioners. The question was also asked about where are all the city art collectives, the graduates and the visual arts community are and is Aberdeen a good place to work and live for artists?

In response to this question Catrin stated that it was her understanding that Aberdeen doesn’t support its young artists.  There is no infrastructure for them, the rent for living space and studio space is too high.

Professor Von Prodzynski, as the principal for RGU, felt that the city had moved on and that Gray’s in particular had made a positive impact locally.  The professor referred to a recent study following on from the city centre regeneration work lead by RGU which found a much greater number of artists than suspected with the oil industry boosting artists in unexpected ways. One of the questions that came up here was around cultural confidence and the sector taking a look at everything that is taking place culturally and asking is all this work being celebrated? How do we tell people? Is it funded in a coherent way? Is this the problem we need to address and if so how?

During this discussion Barney made an interesting point by looking towards other cities and how Aberdeen is completely different from many other Scottish and UK cities.  In fact, he remarked, that after a recent visit to New York, he felt that model could come closest to Aberdeen in its financial make up with regards the arts as it is predominantly privately funded.  Barney shared that many UK cities are in a funding situation where they are supersaturated in public funding. He suggested that we need to get used to the fact that Aberdeen is a private sector place, little in common with other places and we need to work with that. Barney said that people aren’t used to supporting the arts here, we are in a very unusual situation and far more people work in the cultural sector in Aberdeen than in Dundee but they work as cultural workers in giant corporations.

Chair Jane Spiers suggested that the cultural sector, to some degree, needs to adjust its approach towards business and its support of the arts. She suggested that business doesn’t owe the arts a living; it’s not all about CSR and is a far more complex relationship.

An audience member fielded the next question to the panel asking what the role of business is. It was mooted that that the economic power of the oil and gas industry has resulted in a sense of disconnect with Aberdeen. Why are the artists going elsewhere?  There was a also a pre- submitted question around slowing down traffic in Aberdeen City centre which would allow people to take in more of what the city has to offer visually, instead of traffic dodging and noise pollution making up the mainstay of a person’s visit to the city centre.

An audience member from BP responded from the floor. He felt that the co- existence between the two entities should be constructive and would be interested to hear ways in which the relationship could be improved.

The member also commented that his overall feeling was that he would like Aberdeen to be known for excellence, pride and vision for the future.  Excellence in technology, pride in the arts and history, pride in forward thinking technology.  It was further noted that art and culture’s place is in excellence, culture plays into positioning the city globally, which positively impacts on everyone.

Questions continued the audience put another question to the panel, asking if we looked ahead what would the Aberdeen ‘brand’ look like in 10 years’ time? An example was given of the careful development over the last 20 years of Dundee’s brand.  The panel responded.

Catrin quoted Patrick Geddes when he said we should be looking to ‘Think globally, act locally’ and noted that the simplistic change of slowing down cars could make a huge difference.

Professor Ferdinand Von Prodzynski said that it was one of the themes of the analysis of cultural regeneration was how Aberdeen presents itself and wondered how the city allows people to connect with it in a different way.

Barney responded by commenting that whatever the brand were to look like it should be based in reality.

An audience member asked the panel’s view on a municipally controlled civil space. Do we need a civic space?

Ferdinand said that in his opinion civic space was absolutely vital and that Union Terrace is the place but it isn’t used as such. He felt that a blend of different civil spaces was realistic and that it’s about Identity more than just a geographical entity.

The final question from the audience was again around heritage and history and Aberdeen’s quarry and the part it could play in any future cultural activity in the city.  Almost all panel members were joined on their replies stating that this was indeed a striking area in the city and could play a part in lots of different future plans for the city.

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AB+ AGM news & nomination form

The meeting will take place at Arts Centre & Theatre, Aberdeen on Thursday 23rd May from 6pm – 8pm with registration from 5.40pm.

During the event there will be a time of formal business, some presentations about AB+ and from invited speakers as well as a time for networking and refreshments. As part of the formal element of the programme I will be talking about some of the future plans for the organisation especially about how we are working with the 2017 UK City of Culture Bid team and also about a series of events we will be running from the autumn called “cultural conversations” where we want to look at some of the most important topics facing the sector. There will be an opportunity to give some input into the planning of these events during the networking sections.

Also during the A.G.M business we will be electing the board of AB+ for 2013/14. Any member can stand for the board and also for one of the office bearer roles. The board has a maximum number of 12 members and at the moment meets about every six weeks as well as some smaller project group meetings such as planning for the cultural conversations events.

We would welcome nominations to the board as a general member or as an officer (Chair, secretary or treasurer) as we are very keen that the organisation truly represents the breadth of the membership and has a cross section of cultural organisations, individuals and other interested parties represented.

If you would like to nominate yourself for the board can you please download & fill in this form or send the information in an email to our address – by Tuesday 21st May at 5pm. If you have any questions about joining the board or the organisation then please email and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

As well as the formal elements of the event we will be having some presentations from artists and speakers as well as opportunities to ask questions during the main event and the networking time.

We are also keen for people to use the occasion to promote their work so please bring leaflets, pictures and examples of work, as you wish and we will have some tables available in the café area for these to be displayed.

The A.G.M is also open to people who are not yet members of AB+ but are interested in the promotion and raising the profile of the creative and cultural industries in the North-east of Scotland.  People are welcome from all parts of the community and the membership is not just limited to artists or people working in the industry. Please encourage people to attend and there will be an opportunity for them to sign up on the night. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please get in touch through the email Aberdeen.positive@gmail.comor our online site Please join, participate and share to help make AB+ a strong collective voice of the cultural sector in Aberdeen and the North-east.

Yours sincerely

Stewart Aitken Chair, AB+

AB+ Spring 2013 news

AB+ is very much alive and kicking . It is now a constitutionalised body with charity status and has recently been awarded an ACC cultural support grant which will help to progress the vision and mission of the organisation. Membership of the group is open to anyone interested in the cultural picture in the city and shire. We are in due process of planning an AGM & social networking night with inspiring guest speakers.

Please keep 6pm to 8pm 23rd of May free