“Culture is important. Culture can change reputations.”


Rachel had a very insightful and interesting night at the Mix In on Thursday 15th. Run by Creative Dundee and Scottish Enterprise and hosted by Hospitalfield. This was an opportunity for local companies, individuals, and organisations to come together to learn more about cultural tourism and the potential sitting dormant in Dundee and Angus and the surrounding area.

Alex Saint from Creative Tourist was our keynote speaker, sharing the experiences of Manchester and other cities and towns. The learning they underwent and the results they saw and are continuing to develop for themselves. Alex’s examples gave her bold statement “Culture can change reputations” impact and truth. She also made it clear that the only way to achieve this is through collaboration and crosspollination. The best results come when people, companies, organisations work together and create something incredible. This led to another phrase which sums up the situation perfectly. “Scale and Singularity.” It’s not enough to have things going on. They have to complement each other. They have to have a narrative. They have to be unique to you and the area. You need to create a reason for tourists to come and experience culture here, not culture somewhere else.

Over the course of the evening we heard from numerous other speakers, local to the Tayside region, here to begin forging a narrative for the area. To create Scale and Singularity. It became obvious that while cultural tourism does encompass the traditional offerings such as museums, galleries, theatres, etc. Culture can include so much more, as long as it is developed and supported with passion, culture is what we create.

  • Food & Drink Culture – Hilary Tasker from Angus Council told us; 49% of tourists want to sample local food and drink when they go on holiday and they are willing to spend 15% extra if they know it is local produce. – 21% of a tourists holiday budget is spent on food and drink and 2/3 have stated that food and drink is an important part of their holiday.
  • Mountain Biking Culture – Danny Cowe and Graeme McLean informed us that mountain bikes only came to Scotland in 1982 and yet the industry is now worth £257 million pounds a year. Scotland is a world leading mountain biking destination regularly creating new high standard trails, both rural and urban. With every trail come opportunities; Guided tours, shops selling spare parts and hiring bikes, cafes offering refreshments.
  • Eco-Culture – The creation of ecomuseums. Clare Cooper made it clear we live in some of the most stunning landscapes on the planet, why wouldn’t we want to protect and promote them?
  • Design Culture – Tara Wainwright emphasised that Dundee is a UNESCO City of Design, the only one in Britain and is about to have a Design museum, the only one in Scotland. This is a narrative ready for use. The Destination Leaders Programme have lots of research and information to support anyone looking to engage.

All of these do not stand in isolation. They are supported with guided tours, shops selling products, hiring equipment, food and drink retailers offering refreshments, accommodation and so much more. In our current society it isn’t just about what is available in front of you when you arrive. There are incredible opportunities for digital provision and collaboration, virtual tours, geo-tagging, geo-caching, GPS trails, recommendations, blogs and so much more. Malath Abbas discussed Playable Cities and illustrated how much usable data can be collected and but to use through digital connections. Dundee is a hub of digital activity and learning. The ideal melting pot of ideas and expertise already exists, we just have to make it happen. As Ryan McLeod said, “Ideas are worthless, unless you do something about them.”

From the speakers we heard about some of the pilots that have already been running in Dundee thanks to the Cultural Tourism Fund. Such as the behind the scenes tours organised by DCA to several creative spaces in Dundee. The tours of Dundee sites, including transport, led by the Dundee Museum of Transport and the Design Feature trail of Dundee created by Slurpp and Lyall Bruce.

This work is incredible and its potential unlimited. This was an evening to encourage more ideas, more collaboration and create more to bring tourists to the area. To make Tayside unique and a must see destination. Only we can do this. We know the area best, we know the brilliant beauty spots, the best cup of tea, the incredible activities and all the other aspects that make us unique. We can work together to promote these and give the area “Scale and Singularity.” Tara stated it best when she said “We are quite good at collaboration because we are a small city, very open and friendly.” We simply have to extend this across Tayside and across sectors. The best results come from the mix.

A final word from a Developing the Young Workforce perspective. Everything that was discussed is very true and very exciting. But it will amount to nothing if there isn’t buy-in from younger people. Alex Saint talked about a 30 year plan for Manchester. We need to get our young people equally involved and excited in these collaborations and opportunities, otherwise who will continue and develop the work? Young people (millennials, generation Z and beyond) have completely different understandings and expectations to current workers, and while this might be slightly terrifying, it opens up so many more opportunities for collaboration. Work with different generations to produce even more brilliant ideas. Ideas that appeal to younger tourists (who can often convince parents of where to spend their money) and which look towards the future.

The final quote of the evening is equally appropriate here; “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

If you are interested in connecting with young people get in touch with DYW to help you.