A Moray arts festival has been estimated to have generated an £869,000 boost for the local economy.
Nearly 17,000 people were attracted to events held as part of the third biennial Findhorn Bay Festival in September last year – with more than 40% coming from outside the region.
Yesterday, organisers said the boost from the extravaganza, which was centred in Forres and Findhorn, exceeded all expectations.
But warnings have been issued that financial challenges loom on the horizon to sustain the six-day festival while running events through the year.
Festival director Kresanna Aigner believes the economic benefits brought to the region will enhance its case for future funding.
She said: “Through our creative events and activities, we have again demonstrated the resounding positive economic and social benefits brought to the local area through the festival.
“However, as we celebrate 2018, we enter 2019 facing substantial cuts in budgets locally, nationally and from EU funding coming to an end.
“This presents a pressing challenge for us to broaden our partnerships with sponsors and funders to sustain the festival and our year-round programme of creative learning activities.”
Charitable status is now being investigated by the not-for-profit organisers Findhorn Bay Arts to make it more sustainable.
Last year’s event included 315 local and visiting artists contributing to events which were supported by 335 volunteers.
Analysis carried out by organisers found that 29% of the 16,927 visitors stayed overnight for the event while spending an average of £71.21 per night.
Meanwhile, nearly two thirds of businesses reported an increased in footfall while events were bring run.
Highlights of last year’s programme included the first performances of the stage production of the Buke of the Howlat at Brodie Castle and Shooglenifty playing to a capacity crowd at Forres Town Hall.
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Paul Bush, director of events for Visit Scotland, said: “We have supported the festival since its inception in 2014 and during that time it has grown to make a significant impact on Forres, Findhorn and the wider Moray region – drawing many visitors from across Scotland and beyond.
“Its success shows why Scotland is the perfect stage for cultural events.”
The next Findhorn Bay Festival has been scheduled for September 2020.