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ANNUAL REVIEW


cover pic: Phantom Limb at Southern Fried 2011 | pic left:Members of the Gordon Duncan Experience


• • • Introduction • • •

This year over 400,000 people visited the Concert Hall and Theatre to engage in a range of cultural, creative learning and conferencing activities. In a difficult financial climate we were delighted to see more people enjoying the arts with ticket buyers for our cultural programme increasing by 2%. Horsecross Arts produced four of our own festival events this year, and hosted five more. We received a record number of five-star reviews for a classical programme peppered with Scottish and UK exclusives and premieres. Attendance at our unique Scottish Orchestra Concert Series grew significantly with a 17% increase in tickets sold. We welcomed our new Creative Director for Theatre, Rachel O’Riordan, whose tenure got off to a flying start with new partnerships with NTS, Grid Iron and Òran Mór as well as four well reviewed and popular Horsecross productions including Frank McGuinness’ Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, which was nominated for three CATS Awards. Our youth theatre also expanded to reach 200 regularly attending members.

cover pic: Phantom Limb at Southern Fried 2011 | pic left:Members of the Gordon Duncan Experience

In a year when Horsecross was designated the national talent hub for Scottish Traditional and Gaelic Music by Creative Scotland, we hosted a fantastic array of Scottish artists, held a record breaking A National Treasure event and welcomed back both Perthshire Amber and the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards, at which Perth Concert Hall was again nominated in the Venue of the Year category. Scotland’s Celtic big band for young people, the Gordon Duncan Experience, continued to grow in numbers and reputation and we created a new Fèis in Aberfeldy. As Horsecross matures, we have sought new ways to generate income to replace reduced funding. Through more partnerships and increased collaboration, this year’s activities have proved as distinctive and exciting as ever and have been notable for a huge leap in participation and creative learning engagement in our venues. Our green ambitions also took a step forward as we progressed to a Visit Scotland Gold Award for Green Tourism through a developing programme of recycling, waste reduction and energy efficiency. This Annual Review looks back over the year, but 2011:2012 also saw Horsecross preparing for our creative future. We developed a programme of residencies, bursary posts and traineeships across our cultural activities to help support and develop the next generation of directors, composers, producers and writers. We continued to make progress towards our £13.5 million fundraising target to transform Perth’s historic theatre for the audiences, artists and participants of tomorrow. Significant challenges certainly lie ahead, but exciting opportunities have also emerged and we approach the future optimistic that, with the on-going support of our partners and audiences, Horsecross Arts’ creative energy will flourish and continue to create a buzz at the heart of Scotland’s newest city – Perth. Iain Halliday, MBE, Chairman, Horsecross Arts Ltd.


pic: Alison Balsom


• • • Creative Arts • • •

...since the Fair City’s beautiful hall opened... the music programme has been rich with concerts in its own right as well as hosting a juicy selection of visits from the national orchestras The Herald creating, producing and presenting a distinctive artistic programme Right at the beginning of this year’s classical programme the bar was set very high with the Scottish premiere of James MacMillan’s Seraph with the Scottish Ensemble and Alison Balsom. This proved to be the first of many delights: Scottish exclusive programmes given by the Dunedin Consort, the Hebrides Ensemble, the Michelangelo String Quartet, pianists Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne and a series of Mozart Piano and Violin concerts from Susan Tomes and Erich Höbarth all garnered five-star reviews for truly world-class performances. For our final Schubertiad we welcomed the Prince Consort into residence and our first Music Fellow, Matthew Rooke, presented his fascinating exploration of Scottish musical history, Flyting. Perth Concert Series and our Lunchtime Concerts series in partnership with Radio 3 New Generation Artists, both achieved record audiences in 2011:2012. The year concluded on another high note with a UK exclusive visit from the legendary Bach Collegium Japan, arguably the finest period instrument ensemble performing in the world today. It was an extraordinary year, with the classical programme as a whole recognised as one of Scotland’s cultural highs of the year in The Herald’s annual review. Exceptional artists and Scottish exclusives continued across the programme; for our fourth Southern Fried Festival we welcomed some legendary names including Lyle Lovett, STAX!, Raul Malo, and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Audiences of over 4000 enjoyed a series of sell-out performances and lively gigs by international and home grown acts from across the American roots music spectrum. A smattering of smaller shows, workshops and tasty soul food added to this unforgettable weekend of song, sunshine and the now famous Southern Fried good cheer.

pic: Alison Balsom

We celebrated the spirit of traditional music pioneer, Gordon Duncan with our fifth annual A National Treasure concert. It was a record breaking year with more than a thousand people enjoying performances from some of Scottish traditional music’s finest talent. Over the years, the concerts have showcased the skills of many young musicians; A National Treasure V was no exception, including in its line up reigning BBC Radio Scotland Young raditional Musician of the Year, Orcadian fiddler, Kristan Harvey. BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year 2008 gaelic singer Julie Fowlis made her National Treasure debut and top Scottish folk group Wolfstone brought the epic concert to a rousing close. As well as new visitors we were delighted to welcome back many of Scottish music’s established names in over the year including The Unusual Suspects, Blazin’ Fiddles, The Peatbog Faeries, KAN, Session A9, Karen Polwart, The Mhairi Hall Trio, Patsy Reid, and Lau. Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham celebrated 25 years of touring with a memorable concert and Eddi Reader gave another mesmerising performance. Another record-breaking audience welcomed Dougie MacLean’s Perthshire Amber Festival at Perth Concert Hall.


brave, bold, cruel, fast-moving and very funny Perthshire Advertiser

pic: Steven McNicoll and Michael Moreland in Horsecross Arts’ production of Tweflth Night

another major success for Rachel O’Riordan, in her fine first season at Perth. The Scotsman


• • • Creative Arts • • •

a neat mix of international stars and home-grown talent The Scotsman

At Perth Theatre, 2011:2012 was a year of change and renewed ambition with the first season from our new Creative Director for Theatre, Rachel O’Riordan. Her opening play Twelfth Night, had our audiences asking for “more great plays like that please” and the critics praising “A masterclass in how to stage Shakespeare for a 21st century audience.” Our pantomime was universally acclaimed with attendances up by over 10%. Our spring outing Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me was nominated for three CATS Awards and our final Horsecross production of the season, Moonlight and Magnolias, was heralded by The Scotsman’s Joyce MacMillan as “another major success for Rachel O’Riordan, in her fine first season at Perth.” It went on to a successful run at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow. We worked with the National Theatre of Scotland three times this year; first welcoming their Men Should Weep to our subscription season, then enjoying a sell-out week with their stage adaptation of Callum’s Road with Communicado and finally creating the launch event of the National Theatre of Scotland’s first Live Theatre Stream - 5 Minute Theatre.

pic: Steven McNicoll and Michael Moreland in Horsecross Arts’ production of Tweflth Night

Rachel’s production of The Absence of Women visited Perth for its Scottish premiere before transferring to the Tricycle Theatre in London, and audiences of nearly 6000 enjoyed a week-long run of our first West End musical, Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers at Perth Concert Hall. Perth Theatre’s informal Redrooms bar space hosted a sell-out run of Grid Iron’s Barflies and was also home to our first A Play, A Pie and A Pint production, in partnership with Òran Mór, which sold out a week of performances while attracting many new audience members to the theatre. Behind the scenes we delivered scheduled developments in our equalities action plan, including the training of audio describers, investment in new infrared loop equipment and an increase in the number of assisted performances. We also played an active role in the Federation of Scottish Theatre’s Access pilot project. Since the launch of Threshold Digital Artspace at Perth Concert Hall in 2005, we’ve invested in 56 commissions of new work and exhibited works by 325 artists - 210 Scottish and 115 international from China to the Czech Republic. In 2011 we celebrated the sixth year of what is now the largest public digital art collection in Scotland with a retrospective of these Horsecross commissions. We also exhibited the work of Perthshire artists in three exhibitions in partnership with Perthshire Visual Art Forum, guest curated by Maria Devaney, Senior Curator at Perth Museum and Art Gallery.


pic:Join In participant


• • • Creative Learning

It was a really great night last night I walked out of the concert hall feeling a million dollars... It’s such a morale booster, you really couldn’t bottle it

Horsecross Voices participant

Inspiring creativity in young people and local communities After 2010’s extraordinary Inspiring Communities festivals, 2011:2012 was set to be a quiet year for Creative Learning. It turned out to be anything but as we built on many community connections we developed to welcome over 10,000 participations this year, well above our annual target of 6,500. In 2011 we looked again at how we deliver Creative Learning, linking it to work on our main stages and focusing on the creative development of young people. This review left us with a smaller core team but no less ambition, and we delivered. The new Join In programme had over 300 applications with virtually 100% capacity for every project from Glee to Perth Youth Theatre. Our drop-in singing group Horsecross Voices went from strength to strength, with membership growing to eighty members per session. Due to high demand, we also created a new satellite group in the Carse of Gowrie. A new focus on early years development saw our youth theatre opened up to younger children for the first time and members increased by 25% to 200. In March, we hosted our first production for ages 2-4, The Attic. We launched Little Stars, a new series of workshops, and Horsecross Stories – free storytelling sessions for under 5s. In other highlights, our Horsecross Players production of What You Will shared stage and set with our own Twelfth Night, we ran our first Fèis on the Aberfeldy Community Campus, and we received funding from the Youth Music Initiative to run vocal workshops for young people for two years. In October we hosted one of three Music for Youth regional festivals in Scotland, prior to hosting the UK national festival which was confirmed for next year. In the year we became Creative Scotland’s designated Talent Hub for Scottish Traditional and Gaelic Music, our young Celtic big band, the Gordon Duncan Experience, grew to 36 members, opened for the Peatbog Faeries at Perth Concert Hall and were invited to perform at the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. Here in Perth our stages showcased the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, the National Youth Choir of Scotland, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland, the National Youth Pipe Band and the National Youth Brass Band of Scotland.

pic:Join In participant

As well as investing in young talent, our creative learning also increasingly supports professional development for emerging artists and practitioners. For the first time in 2011, we employed six Creative Assistants aged 17 – 19yrs working alongside group tutors to gain skills in leading music and drama workshops. We also employed two trainee youth theatre directors working on main stage shows and Matthew Rooke joined us as a Creative Scotland funded Music Fellow, working alongside our Creative Director for Classical Music James Waters. Brenda Murphy, Alasdair Hunter and Ross Mackay joined us as assistant directors working with Rachel O’Riordon on our Horsecross productions. Away from our stages, Rachel also led a workshop in theatre direction for Perth and Kinross school teachers

• • •


Your catering staff provided gasps of delight from everyone for their table decorating skills and our simply stunning meal.

pic: conference reception at Perth Concert Hall

In these days of faceless concerns it’s a joy to deal with an organisation whose first thought is the customer and not just the bottom line Haywood Society Dinner – 14 May


• • • Creative Business

I don’t think I’ve ever been at a better venue... Scotland’s National Food & Drink Conference

a vibrant cultural tourism destination at the heart of city centre renewal Horsecross has one vision: to create a buzz. We do this across two venues and our three creative businesses: culture, community and conferencing. Conference and events activity not only brought over 17,000 delegates to Perth this year, many for the first time, we also delivered the kind of experience that makes people want to hurry back to Perth. Our venues bring a distinctive touch of class to any event. Delivering to the demanding standards of some of the worlds greatest artists, orchestras and stage productions from the West End to the National Theatre demands a stage team at the top of their game and our highly skilled production staff bring the same professionalism and creative flair to all events we host. From the BBC Leaders Debate to national NHS conferences, from the Princes Trust Gala Dinner to AGMs for Scottish and Southern Energy and Stagecoach, our flexible facilities and skilled team went the extra mile to deliver the perfect setting and service. Delegates at the Scottish Food and Drink Conference remarked on our excellent catering, the BBC appreciated our audio-visual facilities and after their event with us Visit Scotland commented that theirs was “a seamless event. The first time I have worked on an event where delegates were tweeting about how good the food was during the lunch itself”. (Visit Scotland – 14 Feb) We were delighted that our events business was once again the winner of a National Award, winning the ‘Best Medium Venue’ category in the Scottish Events Awards 2011 Our staff are at the heart of our success, so we were delighted this year to not only renew our Investors in People accreditation, but also advance to a Visit Scotland Gold Award for green tourism and finally be awarded a Healthy Working Lives Bronze Award in our first year in the scheme.

pic: conference reception at Perth Concert Hall

* 97% of conference bookers responded to surveys saying they would definitely use Horsecross for conferencing and events again.

• • •


The Horsecross Way Business culture + community + conferences Mission

to create a buzz – in our venues, in Perthshire, in Scotland and internationally

Vision

to keep raising the bar to inspire entertain and delight to help Perth prosper

thanks to our funders, sponsors and partners

audiences

east scotland

Horsecross Arts Ltd is a charity registered in Scotland, no SC022400

Annual Review 2011-2012  

Annual Review of Horsecross Arts Ltd, 2011-2012

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