Double success for Council in Aberdeen City and Shire Thistle Awards

Spectra 2023. (Photo: Ian Georgeson)

ABERDEEN City Council is celebrating success in two categories at the Aberdeen City and Shire Thistle Awards, which highlight the important role the Council’s venues and events play in the region’s tourism and culture offering. 

The ninth edition of the awards, which recognise and reward excellence across the tourism and culture industries, took place at the Chester Hotel on Friday 22 September.  Winners of the regional awards are automatically entered into the national Thistle Awards, which will be held in Glasgow on Wednesday 1 December 2023.

The Council received awards in the following categories:

Outstanding Cultural Event: Spectra – Scotland’s Festival of Light

This category recognises outstanding cultural events or festivals that are part of the tourism offering, delivering exceptional resilience, innovation, and excellence in delivery. Over four days in February 2023, Spectra lit up Aberdeen with artworks by national and international artists at outdoor and indoor locations across the city centre. It attracted 119,000 visits during the festival and showcased the revamped Union Terrace Gardens and the architecture of Aberdeen Art Gallery, HMT and Marischal College. 

The judges were impressed by the inclusive approach to the event with breakout spaces for those with additional needs and the improvements made to reduce the environmental impact of the festival, as well as the huge number of visitors.

The Council has issued a final call for any businesses who are interested in sponsoring Spectra 2024. With a range of benefits packages on offer to suit budgets big and small, Scotland’s Festival of Light is a great opportunity to platform a business, reward staff with exclusive access to the event and develop a unique partnership with one of the country’s most innovative events.

Spectra 2023 generated media coverage including social media valued at over £6million according to an evaluation by The Corner Shop. Anyone interested in sponsoring Spectra should contact before Friday 6 October 2023 for further information.

Best Visitor Attraction Experience: Aberdeen Art Gallery

This category celebrates the variety of opportunity provided to Scotland’s visitors, and the attractions which provide a world class service and warm welcome to all visitors and have sustainability at their heart. 

The redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery, the major funders of which were Aberdeen City Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, transformed one of the city’s landmark buildings into a more welcoming, accessible, and sustainable attraction for local people and visitors to the city.

Aberdeen Art Gallery was a winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 and Scotland’s Building of the Year 2021. Figures for September 2022 to September 2023, reveal there have been over 176,000 visits to the Art Gallery. Highlights since the 2019 re-opening include Luke Jerram’s Gaia for Spectra, the British Art Show 9, Zandra Rhodes – 50 Years of Fabulous, The Galloway Hoard – Viking-age Treasure, and A Quentin Blake Summer, illustrating verse and book covers. The judges commended Aberdeen Art Gallery for its friendly and engaging welcome with a customer focussed approach, ensuring all visitors are greeted and informed.

Council officers have led initiatives to improve accessibility and wellbeing for staff and visitors at Aberdeen Art Gallery and delivered environmental impact best practice for Spectra. They have developed meaningful partnerships with local accessibility charities such as WeToo, which provide advice and support on relaxed experiences for families with additional support needs.

Councillor Christian Allard, Co-Leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “The Aberdeen City and Shire Thistle Awards showcase the very best of our tourism sector, and I’m delighted that the Council has been recognised for this. The success of both Aberdeen Art Gallery and Spectra demonstrates the positive impact the Council’s investment in major attractions and events is having on the cultural and economic life of our city and our communities. These awards are also testament to the hard work and excellence of our staff in the museums and galleries, events, and culture teams. 

“We will continue to work to develop more opportunities for exceptional experiences for local people and visitors to the city, in order to attract new audiences and visitors to Aberdeen to support a vibrant and sustainable tourism sector.”

Councillor Martin Greig, culture spokesperson for Aberdeen City Council said: “I’m very pleased that Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Spectra Festival have received these prestigious awards. They recognise the significant cultural and tourism benefits of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Spectra and acknowledge the first-rate work by all staff involved. 

“Sponsorship opportunities for Spectra 2024 are available and I would encourage interested parties to get in touch to find out more about the various options available to be part of this hugely popular and award-winning festival.”

Aberdeen Art Gallery is open Monday to Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday 11am-4pm. 

Spectra, Scotland’s Festival of Light, will return to Aberdeen in February 2024

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