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Ambitious plans to bring street art festival back to Aberdeen for next three years

"Because You Are That Light" mural at Aberdeen Market.
Hera designed the iconic former Aberdeen Market mural. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.

Ambitious plans are being drawn up to bring the Nuart street festival back to Aberdeen for the next three years- and expand it into the city’s suburbs.

Earlier this month, artists from across the world descended on the Granite City using spray cans and stencils to transform walls across the city centre and shining a national spotlight on the city.

Now, it’s understood that council civil servants are being asked to plan for the return of the festival for the next three years.

A report will be brought to the first meeting of the finance committee after the election set for June 8.

And under proposals being considered, the celebration could expand the artworks outwith the city centre and into neighbouring communities like Torry, Bridge of Don and Garthdee.

Last night all leaders of the city’s political parties gave their backing to the plan.

The local authority has long hoped to develop the city’s cultural offering to help diversify the economy away from oil and gas and into tourist markets.

Tens of millions has been spent renovating the art gallery and music hall while with plans to once again bid for the UK city of culture in 2025.

Groups of hundreds gathered at The Green and Castlegate to be taken on free guided tours to view the large pieces during the festival from April 14 to 18.

The project was spearheaded by Aberdeen Inspired, the council and supported by Burness Paull, and marked the first time it had been staged outside of Norway, having started in Stavanger in 2001.

A total of £150,000 was invested by the council and Aberdeen Inspired for the festival.

Calculations have not been completed on the economic impact of the recent show but council insiders say it is likely to have generated hundreds of thousands of pounds and attracted thousands of visitors.

Stavanger has made bold moves to diversify it’s oil-based economy into drawing foreign tourists.

Angela Michael, festivals and cultural director of tourism body VisitAberdeenshire, said that while the economic impact was not yet known- it had “raised the profile” of Aberdeen.

She said: “VisitAberdeenshire is in favour of high quality cultural experiences that adds to the creative contribution in the area, and any addition to the north-east’s cultural calendar can only be a good thing, as events like these raise the profile of Aberdeen as a creative, vibrant city that is an exciting place to live or visit and brings further economic benefits to the area.”

And Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “Witnessing the fantastic reaction from the public, which highlights the enthusiasm for events like this in our city, was wonderful to see, as well as the calls for and wish to see it repeated.

“It is positive that discussions are being held regarding the return of Nuart Aberdeen, which reflect the huge impact and success of the project, which we believe to be one of the biggest in Aberdeen for a long time, and one we hope to bring back again subject to formal discussions with the Aberdeen Inspired board.”

Last night, the council’s leader, Labour’s Jenny Laing, said: “Having seen its impact and the way this event was received, we are committed to taking Nuart back to Aberdeen for three more years.

“If you look at cities like Stavanger and Bilbao, they have done an incredible job of diversifying their economies by putting culture at the heart of their strategic plan.

“Aberdeen is doing exactly the same by bringing top class events and exhibitions to the city and hosting these in venues which will be among the best in the world.”

Opposition SNP group leader Stephen Flynn said: “We’ve committed to a cultural strategy in our manifesto and it would certainly by my expectation that the return of Nuart and a city of culture bid would be included in that.”

Conservative group leader Tom Mason said: “The Scottish Conservative group would certainly support the return of this event in future years and I’m sure organisers would want to build on its undoubted success.

“With the re-opening of a refurbished Aberdeen Art Gallery also due later this year, more visitors will be drawn to the city centre, which can only be good for local businesses.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Ian Yuill added: “I would certainly welcome it’s return.

“Clearly Aberdeen needs diversity, and cultural projects like Nuart play a big part in that.”