Researchers offer creative funding to bring Highland and Island heritage to life

Artists, crafters, musicians and writers in the Highlands and Islands are being invited to develop new work and products inspired by local stories as part of a collaborative project being managed by researchers from the University of the Highlands and Islands and Robert Gordon University Orkney.

As part of the Northword project eight development grants of £1,700 are available to support new creative work which will be promoted digitally to reach international audiences.

Applicants are being asked to present an idea for a new product or work based on stories that have been collected by project researchers celebrating the history, archaeology, traditions, folklore, landscape and environment of the whole region.

The project aims to use the power of storytelling to support the creative industries in remote areas and enhance the online presence of small businesses by giving them greater access to international markets. It also seeks to draw on and support long traditions of storytelling in northern locales and encourage communities to rediscover and celebrate local tales.

Elsa Cox, Project Manager at Robert Gordon University Orkney, said:

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital platforms in supporting the arts, and the Northword project will further harness this potential. We’re looking forward to seeing what innovative and creative ideas applicants have in response to the stories we have collected.”

Dr Steve Taylor, Director of the Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research based at West Highland College UHI, added:

“There is a wealth of creative talent in the Highlands and Islands and we’re hoping to encourage applications from a diverse range of practitioners. The possibilities are wide ranging and potential products could include textiles, ceramics, crafts, jewellery, art, music, film, photography, dance and theatre. We welcome contributions in English, Gaelic or Scots.”

Both the stories and the resulting products, including details of their creators, will be promoted on a bespoke website and Apple and Android apps that will be developed as part of the project. The website will also host a hub for any creative practitioners to use to improve their digital marketing skills. The whole process will be captured on a documentary film and a series of events - ‘Bringing Stories to Life’ – will publicise the project internationally.

The Northword project is co-funded by the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme of the European Union and draws on the experience and expertise of a range of international partners in Northern Ireland, Russia, Sweden and Finland. In Scotland the project is led by staff at Robert Gordon University Orkney in collaboration with the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Applicants will be asked to submit a two-minute video pitch detailing which story they have chosen and how their product will help to bring it to life. Applications close on the 18th May and successful applicants will be informed within a month. They will then have a six-month development period in which to produce the work. 

More details about the application process and how to apply can be found here or you can find out more on the Northword Facebook page.