Cultural partnership wins award after boosting visitor numbers

A collaboration between Aberdeen Art Gallery and The National Trust for Scotland’s Drum Castle, has won a prestigious award.

The partnership won the coveted ‘Working together for Tourism’ award in recognition of their joint efforts to boost culture and tourism in the North East.

The team will now compete against other regional winners in the national Scottish Thistle Awards in Edinburgh next March.

The collaboration has enabled artworks from Aberdeen Art Gallery’s outstanding collection to be seen and enjoyed by visitors to two exhibitions at Drum Castle during the Art Gallery’s £30million redevelopment which will continue until Winter 2017.

Aberdeen Art Gallery’s exhibitions team worked alongside NTS staff to create a secure environment for displaying artworks with Drum Castle now permanently capable of hosting major exhibitions sympathetic to the historical fabric of the building.

Aberdeen Art Gallery at Drum Castle is a unique project that has produced the only Scottish example of a contemporary-focused art gallery within a historic interior.

The Castle has provided a unique setting for two specially curated exhibitions,‘ Human Presence’ and ‘Northern Lights’ - which continues until 31 March 2017.

Aberdeen City Council Depute Leader Councillor Marie Boulton said: “We are delighted that Aberdeen Art Gallery has added Drum Castle to its list of collaborations with cultural businesses, both nationally and internationally.

“Aberdeen Art Gallery is undergoing a major transformation which will significantly enhance the visitor experience by increasing gallery space and create new spaces for education and learning, as well as a stunning new rooftop gallery and terraces.

“During the closure period, this excellent example of partnership working has resulted in new and exciting cultural experiences for the people of the North East and visitors to one of Deeside’s most popular visitor attractions.

“Art, music and heritage are key elements of a vibrant tourism and leisure economy. The redeveloped Art Gallery will be a world-class centre for art and music, and a must-visit destination for both local people and visitors to the area.”

The first exhibition, ‘Human Presence’ increased visitor numbers and income, taking Drum Castle into the top 10 most visited North East paid entry properties.

During the first year, Drum Castle, has seen a 31% rise in paying visitors and a 25% rise in non-paying visitors, which, together with secondary spend in catering and retail, has delivered a 40% increase in Drum’s visitor services income.

Dr Alison Burke, Manager of Drum Castle, said: “The partnership with Aberdeen Art Gallery has been vitally important to Drum. It has brought new visitors to the Castle and encouraged many previous visitors to return.

"I am hugely grateful to the team at AAG for helping Drum reach out to new audiences. Drum is also a castle where art has been treasured over the centuries and the Irvine family of Drum boasts several successful artists in the Castle’s 700 years of history.

"Therefore, it always felt right that Aberdeen Art Gallery should come and find a home at Drum.”

From January, 2016 to date, the ‘Northern Lights’ exhibition has generated a further 32% increase in visitor income.

The organisations received the Working Together for Tourism Award at The Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards on Friday (November 25).