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Spectra will shine a light on boosting Aberdeen city centre’s economy

spectra aberdeen
One of Spectra's installations titled Together. Photo by Jody Hartley.

Not only will Spectra light up Aberdeen, the popular festival will also boost the city’s economy and showcase the importance of cultural events in the north-east.

Taking inspiration from Scotland’s Year of Stories in 2022, the urban light festival will bring family-friendly fun to the north-east from Thursday February 10 to Sunday February 13.

With many people expected to travel to the Granite City to see what Scotland’s festival of light has to offer this year, local hotels and eateries can expect a boost in sales, said Andy Brydon, director at Curated Place which is delivering the event on behalf of Aberdeen City Council

“Just the footfall on the streets means that some of the restaurants and bars will really benefit from the event,” Andy said, as work began on building the eye-catching installations in the city centre.

Trumpet Flowers begin to sprout on Broad Street ahead of Spectra officially starting on Thursday.

Supporting local economy and highliting importance of cultural events

But Andy thinks the festival’s importance is much greater.

He said: “Spectra brings life into the city and makes the city feel like a safe space for families and people.

“We want to come back this year and really demonstrate that cultural events in the city are absolutely critical, especially given that retail has essentially gone all online.

“So what are cities for? How do we bring people together? By making work and giving people the chance to experience this work.”

Spectra will bring breathtaking installations to Aberdeen city centre, which will subsequently support the local economy.

While Spectra was attended by tens of thousands of people in pre-Covid times, it’s hard to estimate how many locals as well as visitors will feel confident to venture out to see this year’s stunning light installations.

Andy said: “We’re trying to make the festival safe. But we’re also very aware there’s some nervousness and some risk involved in people coming together. We’re putting in measures to manage crowds and keep people safe.”

Keeping everyone safe by bringing bigger installations to outdoor spaces

Spectra – which is one of the festivals that Curated Place has been working on for the longest – is really important to Andy and his team.

“We really had to battle through tough times during these past years to keep it alive,” said the director.

“We tried to work out new and different ways to deliver the festival and bring some light into Aberdeen.”

spectra doric aberdeen
Spectra will transform Marischal College into a colourful bus journey through Aberdeen, inspired by Sheena Blackhall’s poetry.

One of the new ways of producing this event was to collaborate with bigger venues.

Andy said: “We’re really excited to be working with new venues like Aberdeen Art Gallery and Music Hall.”

To make sure a lot of people don’t congregate in small places, the team behind Spectra decided to keep most light installations outside and opted not to utilise smaller venues like they did before.

Going up… TOGETHER will be a spectacular addition to the Castlegate during Spectra, the festival of light.

Andy said: “We want to keep people safe so we worked hard to bring much bigger installations – because we lost some sites for smaller installations like the Union Terrace Gardens and Kirk of St Nicholas and we also cannot risk packing people into space.

“So the installations on Castlegate (TOGETHER by Lucid Creates) is enormous and it will project people’s writings and urban legends.”

Spectra to bring stunning art installations to Aberdeen

Andy also thinks GAIA (a large light installation of the planet Earth) will be a hit with locals and visitors alike.

“It will be in Aberdeen Art Gallery and I think it will complement Kenny Hunter’s exhibition nicely,” said Andy.

spectra aberdeen
Art and light installation Together is one of the festival’s highlights.

Some of the other “really big and impressive pieces” are Museum of the Moon which is a fusion of lunar imagery, moonlight and surround sound composition, and Six Frames which will see Sheena Blackhall’s Doric poem Twa Brigs Bussie displayed on Marischal College.

The team started putting up installations on Friday (February 4) and the director is hoping everything will be in place by Tuesday (February 8).

Trumpet Flowers on Broad Street as seen from above.

Spectra’s Catalyst Conference

Andy would also like to invite those wishing to learn more about Spectra and how the event came together to attend the festival’s Catalyst Conference.

Bringing together arts and activism, the online event – titled Culture Is Not A Luxury – aims to create new partnerships across heritage, public space and education.

Taking place online on February 11, the conference will examine the importance of culture and what role it will have in the post-Covid world.

Dame Evelyn Glennie will be the new chancellor of Robert Gordon University.
Dame Evelyn Glennie will be one of Catalyst Conference’s panelists. Photo by Caroline Purday.

The conference will feature a panel of expert speakers from the arts, education, heritage, tourism and business sectors, including musician and Robert Gordon University chancellor Dame Evelyn Glennie.

Tickets for the Catalyst Conference are now on sale as pay-what-you-can and can be booked here.

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