In the height of a warm Autumn’s afternoon the most recent meeting was to take place of the group which over these months past has come together with a collective interest in culture, artistic activities, the creative sectors and with a passion for seeing each of those pursuits further supported, further facilitated and rendered all the more accessible to the people of Aberdeen whether as practitioners, professionals, enthusiasts, audience members, attendants and citizens alike.

It has been especially encouraging to see the breadth of sectors and backgrounds from which the members of the group have come together, from culture, commerce, academia, those active within the third sector, and representatives within the wider community; and with each providing not only their views on how we can together strengthen and support culture, creativity and the arts within Aberdeen, but also having come forward to lend their experience, expertise, knowledge and even resources in the ongoing design, development and distribution of the city’s ‘Cultural Strategy’.

At the centre of His Majesty’s Theatre’s dance rehearsal studio with its smooth wooden floors, tall mirrors and windows to the world outwith; tables pulled together, papers placed, post-it notes in position and with markers, pens and pencils at the ready, the focus of the conversation was on how those could be reached who may never before have had the chance to take part – and perhaps even more importantly, how they could have the chance to access and to attend some of those activities which the group and which the strategy seeks to support.

As a reflection almost of the meeting itself, the answer was readily discovered to be present not only in the policy, the strategy and sequence of events upon the paper, but also within the city’s and the region’s communities.  Places where there is  an abundance of tradition and custom and people who have a wealth of creativity, imagination and talent – and whose interest and information will be essential in ensuring that those steps which are taken are sustainable and achievable not only in the months, but also in the years to come.

As an initial step in this process, and as a blend of both there was announced a series of workshops and events to take place over the coming while. Sessions not simply of formal consultation, but of an altogether more immersive experience of some of that same culture, creativity and artistic activity. From writing and reading, to poetry and singing – and all throughout, the opportunity for those in attendance to share their experiences, their views, recommendations, questions or even critiques of what has taken place so far, and how things can be improved – and for those responses to continue to shape the formation of the strategy, in making sense of what that information means, how it should best be implemented and providing guidance on what happens next, in the near as well as further future.



Jonathan Smith is a member of the Culture Network’s ‘Culture Circle’ group and is an active representative within the community in Aberdeen, Scotland.

At present, a Community Councillor for the area of Castlehill and Pittodrie, member of the Community Council Forum, and Vice – Chair of the Civic Forum as well as representing the community in a number of thematic and working groups as part of the Community Planning Partnership for Aberdeen.