PEOPLE in Aberdeen are their own worst enemy when it comes to promoting the region.
Despite being proud of our rich cultural heritage, we’re too quick to join in with others doing the region down rather than shouting about what a great place it is.
Our reluctance to talk-up Aberdeen is hindering the region from attracting the funding it needs to build a vibrant city and prevent the haemorrhaging of creative talent to the Central Belt and further afield.
There’s a clear hunger for the Granite City to become a key cultural destination and, while there have been some great steps made to turn the city’s “dismal” reputation around, we continue to lack a joined-up approach that delivers real impact.
Unless we get our act together soon Aberdeen is at risk of becoming a sleepy backwater of Scotland.
Other cities from Dundee to Hull, New York to Barcelona have managed to turn their economic fortunes around by putting culture and creativity at the heart of their city centre masterplans.
There’s no good reason that Aberdeen can’t do the same.
We need to have a clear mission – a call to arms that everyone can unite behind.
We need to build on Aberdeen City Council’s hugely welcomed funding of creative spaces. Attracting further funding will provide spaces that foster idea sharing and help our creative community thrive rather than having to move away in order to survive.
We need to throw our weight behind the entrepreneurs who are opening new project spaces, bars, restaurants, cafes and galleries. Let’s provide the necessary support to ensure these are a success.
After all, if you don’t have culture what do you have?
For too long people in Aberdeen have demanded a better place to live but have seen it as someone else’s duty to create it. Building a dynamic, thriving city is everyone’s responsibility. Let’s start today by challenging the naysayers and being positive about our great city.
• Sally Reaper is the founding director of visual art agency SMART, part of a consortium hosting the Look Again festival in Aberdeen 8–12 April. For further details visit www.lookagainfestival.co.uk