SPECTRA shines bright with economic boost and award win

Newly collated figures have demonstrated SPECTRA, Aberdeen’s festival of light, had had over £700,000 impact to the local economy in 2017.


The financial analysis is another positive story for the annual event, which has also added a fresh award to its growing collection by being named best family event of the year by Raring2go! Magazine.


Figures published by Aberdeen City Council demonstrate the value the event adds to the local economy. The 2017 event had an estimated output £685,872, which includes £403,454 of visitor spend and additional investment to the city as a result of the festival taking place. Over and above this figure an additional £314,453 was brought to the local economy through the spend by local residents while attending the festival.


Now a firm fixture on Aberdeen’s events calendar, SPECTRA saw a significant rise in attendance this year – with visitor numbers reaching 63,286. That is nearly double the attendance of 2016 and SPECTRA has grown to become Aberdeen’s leading cultural festival.


The festival also received prestigious industry recognition through The Drum Scottish Events Awards when it won Festival of the Year against stiff competition.


Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council Culture Spokesperson, said:  “Following the success of 2017 and the approval of the 2017/18 Culture Programme budget, SPECTRA will return in 2018 with the theme of ‘Play the Night’ – exploring innovation, creativity and the benefits of play to kick-off the national Year of Young People.


“The festival will centre on Aberdeen’s greatest asset, its young people, to create a collaborative programme which will place young people at the heart of development and delivery.


“Aberdeen is a dynamic city which offers a great deal for both residents and visitors. In the last few years, we have made a concerted effort to raise the city’s cultural profile and we look forward to welcoming SPECTRA back to Aberdeen in February 2018.”


Aberdeen City Council in partnership with arts-led production company Curated Place deliver the four-night light festival each year in early February, pairing leading international artists with Scottish collaborators creating the North-east’s most successful cultural event.


Celebrating the Scottish Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology exploring Aberdeen’s past through the theme ‘A New Light’, SPECTRA was delivered over four days at Union Terrace Gardens, the Kirk of St Nicholas Graveyard, Seventeen and Marischal College. New site additions for 2017 included the Catalyst Conference at the Anatomy Rooms and the St Nicholas Rooftop Gardens, which presented a series of new local commissions and a live music programme, delivered in partnership with Aberdeen Performing Arts’ True North festival.


Participatory workshops involved Aberdeen schools as well as professional development for local artists and students, and Jenny Dockett, award winning artist and educator, was appointed SPECTRA’s artist in residence, bringing her Illuminated Geometry project to Aberdeen.


Workshops were delivered in 10 Aberdeen primary schools, engaging 300 participants (P5&6) and a further 100 children took part in public workshops over the festival weekend at Seventeen.  A final installation piece was created by the schools and presented in Seventeen through the festival.


In addition to the main participation events the festival included a variety of family activities including storytelling, badge making and face painting as well several interactive works.


In addition to the presentation of international quality works, SPECTRA 2018 will support and commission emerging young artists from Aberdeen to collaborate and develop new work with international partners. Organisers will also be seeking to expand participation opportunities as well as developing the impacts of the education programme to those most in need, including the Syrian New Scots group.


With the potential of new sites and festival footprint, organisers are also seeking to build more relationships with Aberdeen based cultural organisations, venues, local business and communities, to continue to grow the range of opportunities and experiences the festival offers and identify a wider range of external investment to support the event delivery.