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Starting small, making it big; COMMUNITY Three wee Scottish communities are celebrating big-time, thanks to a share of a PS300,000 prize pot which is fuelling creative ideas, as Jenny Chambers reports.

Byline: Jenny Chambers

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow - just look at the award-winning results of community efforts north of the border. The well-worn phrase certainly rings true among the winners of Scotland's 2013 Creative Place Awards, which honour small communities which have made a big creative impact.

The three winners of the awards, which are now in their second year, are music and arts festivals which are attracting visitors outside of the main cities.

It's the hard work and imagination of such small communities as Pathhead in Midlothian that is creating a rich cultural life for residents and the musical scene in that particular town is proving inspirational.

Home to 15 musicians, with the Pathhead Music Collective now aiming for international recognition, the town won the category for a place with up to 2,500 residents.

In the category of place with up to 10,000 residents - again making it technically the most creative place in Scotland for its size - the award was taken by Huntly, in Aberdeenshire, where the community takes part in artist-led initiatives.

Huntly has developed worldwide creative community links through its Town Is The Venue programme which involved several projects, including one which saw the town re-branded.

In the third category - places with up to 100,000 inhabitants - judges were impressed with Kilmarnock and surrounding area, in East Ayrshire, with its thriving arts venues and year-round series of festivals.

These include Kilmarnock Edition Festival, Kilmarnock Fair Festival, Summer Symphony, Harvest and Imprint Festivals whose programmes span an ambitious range of art forms.

Iain Munro, director of creative development for Creative Scotland, said: "These three communities are fantastic examples of how embedding arts and culture within the foundation of a community strengthens and improves people's lives, impacting the social and economic wellbeing of the community. "The awards celebrate how arts and creativity can promote the identity and character of a place.

"Congratulations to all the winners and shortlisted places. We were extremely impressed by the creative vitality and energy across Scotland."

Representatives from the three winning communities received the awards at a ceremony at The Byre Theatre in St Andrews (which won last year's category for a place with fewer than 100,000 residents) and their big cash prizes mean a further boost to creativity in their towns throughout the year.

Pathhead wins PS50,000 which will help its aim to make the town internationally renowned as a centre of musical excellence through a range of activities, including more performances, education outreach projects and three one-day festivals.

Huntly's PS100,000 prize will enable the town to create a roaming initiative, called Walks of Life, which will bring about cultural opportunities via walking events. Over the next three years, local arts groups and individual artists will also be collaborating on a new initiative called Hospitality in Huntly and District.

And Kilmarnock's whopping PS150,000 award will enable its festivals to expand their programmes, while - as part of ongoing work to regenerate the town centre - vacant shops will be hosting new work.

Derek Mackay MSP, minister for local government and planning who attended the awards, pointed out that culture can be an important catalyst for economic development and regeneration as well as attracting tourists and inward investment.

The Creative Place Awards were originally launched as part of the Year of Creative Scotland 2012 - a Scottish Government-led initiative and year-long celebration of the country's cultural strengths - and they will run until 2014. For more information, visit www.creativescotland.com

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Winners in the Under 100,000 residents (PS150,000) category, Kilmarnock

The Creative Place Awards 2013 winners with Derek Mackay MSP and event host Dougie Vipond
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 26, 2013
Words:608
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