Belladrum: An Innovation Story

Homegrown in the Highlands, the award-winning Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival takes place at Beauly near Inverness.
Since its launch in 2004, Belladrum has grown from a small annual event to a household name that welcomes 18,500 festival goers per year, and has launched an independent record label, Belladrum Records.

>The festival was created to give the people and artists of the Highlands a festival they could call their own. This vision is at the core of the record label, which supports local highlands artists.

Every August, organiser Joe Gibbs opens the doors of the stunning Belladrum Estate – home to Scotland’s largest camping music festival – where his family have lived for over 60 years.

In 2004, the estate’s Italian Gardens were fast approaching the point of disrepair. Keen to restore the gardens to their former glory, Joe aligned this desire with his passion for music festivals and Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival was born.

Joe Gibbs
Joe Gibbs

Making a festival in the heart of the highlands, the community was integral to its success and plays a key role in everything it does. Speaking about the relationship with the local community, Joe said: “The community is well-integrated into the festival and there’s a great mentality within the local and wider highland areas. The festival is very much centred around them, with 60-70% of attendees being Highlanders.

“On top of attending the festival, we get the people from all over the region involved with all aspects of the event from set up, to performing and dismantling. But we wanted to do more for the community and supporting our great homegrown talent was the natural next step.”

Joe and his team are constantly looking at ways to innovate and re-invent the festival to allow them to grow and keep the appeal of the festival. The launch of Belladrum Records provided just that.

Joe said: “Being innovative has been a need from day one of the venture, and thankfully we’ve had a lot of support from HIE over the years. Being able to tap into the Innovation Team’s wealth of expert knowledge, advice and training has been indispensable. I don’t think the festival would be what is it today without the help of HIE.

“After deciding we wanted to create our own record label we knew HIE’s support would be invaluable to its success. We explained to our account manager that we wanted the label to provide a springboard for local artists who needed a helping hand to launch their career. Immediately HIE was right on board with the idea and suggested we apply for the Innovate Your Business Grant.

Helping kickstart the venture, HIE provided a £15,000 grant which assisted the signing and digital release for their first signed artist, Tamzene, who they discovered busking on the Inverness High Street.

Joe said: “The record label is creating new and exciting opportunities for musicians to develop and adds to the existing platform the festival gives artists in the region.

“I’m immensely proud of what we’re doing in the Highlands. When we started the festival, it was about creating a place where local acts would be able to play for local people, it really is a festival in the Highlands for Highlanders.

“In the festival world people value originality. We’ve delivered that so far and plan on continuing to deliver that in years to come with our passion for innovation and support from HIE.”

Innovation is helping Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival stay ahead of the game and it can for you too.

Businesses looking to sign up to access HIE’s innovation services can visit hie.co.uk/hietime or call 0300 013 5041 for expert info on what funding and innovation resources are available from HIE.

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