Sunday, December 22, 2013

Watching what they make of Moray and learning from it?

This observer was talking to one of our regular readers recently and the conversation harked back to the good old days of 1993 and local government reorganization, there was an abortive attempt by the then District Council to have Nairn join up with Moray – that attempt was annihilated at a rather large meeting in the old community centre on a fateful night when a campaign to “Keep Nairn Highland” reached its vociferous zenith. Fast forward 20 years however and our correspondent said:

“Personally I think it makes no sense for Nairn to be tied into the Highland region. Nairn has much more in common (geographically, socially, historically, economically) with Moray than with Highland (so much of which is remote, sparsely populated, wild and mountainous).  The problems we grapple with (A96 access, the rail service, tourism-marketing, agricultural viability, jobs and housing) are problems almost identical to the rest of the Laich of Moray to the east.  The western isles and most of the Highlands have different problems (of remote rurality, and in the case of Inverness, of urban overload).”

Bearing that in mind we were also recently recommended to visit a website “We make Moray. Our Place. Our Culture. Our Future.”  The site bills itself as: “We Make Moray is a project exploring the culture and
identity of Moray. Participants have been invited to submit their ideas for making Moray a culturally better place through this Ideas Bank, Freepost Postcards, Online Surveys, Community Events and Interviews. The outcomes of this participation will make up a cultural strategy for Moray to be published in February 2014.
You can read more of that on the site's  about page here. 

The main page here exhibits all the ideas submitted so far; some of them will be familiar to Gurnites and would dovetail perhaps with elements of the Nairn festival and other cultural activities in the town. 

The initiative has a draft strategy which, quoting one of the contributors, begins:

“Creativity is part of the fabric of life... Supporting creativity across learning, community, health, tourism and more; arts and culture is not something you  can place in a box, of to the side and separate from daily life... Creativity is in  the daily fabric of life: from the clothes we wear, the TV and dramas we watch, and the music we listen to... Great inventions and designs all require creative  thinking... A community that nurtures creativity, enriches businesses and  creates a community of creative thinkers... Develop an arts and culture tourism  strategy… Encourage visitors to the area because we do have a rich heritage  and culture... Support our museums and libraries, develop creative learning in  schools, put on events and activities in the community halls, support a variety  of festivals and events that celebrate the incredibly rich cultural oferings that  Moray has to offer.” More here.

We’re not part of Moray and not part of this initiative but it presents an excellent opportunity to steal observe and learn from any good ideas that emerge from Morayshire communities that have a lot in common with ourselves. 


Anonymous said...

Moray Arts Centre closed it's doors this year due to a lack of funding, libraries are also mooted to be closing. The budget for the Arts has been slashed to nothing and you're suggesting we up our Highland anchor and drop it in Moray. Am I missing something?

Graisg said...

Anon, there is a school of thought that the cuts are not over wherever you might live. You might be interested in a little piece of information contained in the latest newsletter of the Scottish Community Alliance: "Writing in the Guardian ahead of the Chancellor’s autumn statement, the political economist Will Hutton sent out a chill reminder to anyone who thinks the cold winds of austerity might be starting to ease. In fact, it’s set to get much worse. Over the next four years, cuts of £65bn have been pencilled in with an estimated 900,000 public sector jobs set to go. Cuts on this scale would dwarf all that’s gone before (£25bn cuts/300,000 jobs) making it almost impossible to envisage what the public sector will eventually look like."

Anyway why should it always be about funding - maybe there are things we can do for ourselves. Perhaps that ideas page on the We make Moray site might have some appropriate for Nairnshire

The Moray Arts Centre closed? Do you mean this one?
looks still open to this observer

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you're right Graisg re more savage cuts to come, after all the Red Cross is now having to help feed the UK thanks to our Westminster government's policies. The Arts seems like a luxury that we can't afford. Will being in a broke Highland council area or a bust Moray one make any difference. Public sector job losses will hit both regions very hard

As for doing things ourselves I think it'll be wielding spades to grow food rather than acts of Shakespeare

the observer said...

Some interesting stuff in that We Make Moray draft strategy document.

One point in particular: in answer to a survey question (see p10 of the document) asking, "how can we put our ideas into action", the most frequent response was NOT "loadsamoney" or "public funding".

No, it was "Leadership" and "Communication".

Definitely food for thought. Who and where is Nairn's leadership, and how are they mobilising community effort? (Answers on a postcard to the Gurn comments page!)

Anonymous said...

The recent Area Committee meeting as recorded in the Gurn underlined the fact that Nairn desperately needs a voice to lead us. The councillors from Strathspey ran rings around our councillors in terms of their ideas for Nairn. Could anyone from the NICE camp be persuaded to stand at the next council elections, we need people with workable ideas, preferable new and exciting and not the same old reworked formula which is applied to the likes of tourism.
We've had some great examples of what Nairn can do as a community this year that we shouldn't forget. Look at the success of various events to raise monies for the new stand at Nairn County FC. We should not only be proud of that but also build on it

DavidS said...

As another neighbour from just across the border, who avidly reads Gurn on a daily basis, I would suggest that the two councilsa are just as good (bad) as each other when it comes to upsetting the electorate. Politically, I see no purpose in Nairnshire swapping over.