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History of Orkney Arts Forum

The Arts Forum was originally set up in 2001 by Orkney Islands Council, under the chairmanship of Councillor Roderick MacLeod. The Council and other members of the Forum were keen to establish a strategic approach to arts development in the county. Forum members, Orkney Enterprise and the Scottish Arts Council, commissioned a major piece of work to audit activity and the state of the arts in Orkney at that time.

The Orkney Arts Audit was undertaken by Bryan Beattie of Creative Services, and was published in 2002. This was quickly followed by the creation of the Orkney Arts Strategy 2003-2006, again by Bryan Beattie. The strategy included over 100 recommendations over a variety of areas such as improved facilities, opportunities for artists, increased opportunities for participation and new staff posts.

The strategy included a recommendation to establish a post of Arts Development Officer and when the strategy was published the Arts Forum ceased its work. The council worked with Orkney Enterprise and the Scottish Arts Council to establish the post for an intial three years, a post which continues successfully to this day.

At the time that the arts development officer came into post in May 2004, the Orkney Arts Forum was re-established in its present form, in order to advise the arts development officer, and take a key role within the Orkney Community Planning Partnership. Alongside its work to move forward and advocate for the arts in Orkney, the Forum has managed several specific projects such as the Highlands 2007 music commission of the poems of Robert Rendall, "Winterings" performed by the St Magnus Festival Chorus in December 2007, and Tullimentan - the showcase for the arts held in 2005. 

The Forum will be working closely with the Arts Officer, communities and organisations during late 2015 and 2016 to identify the opportunites and challenges going forward, and use this information to develop a vision and arts development strategy to support Orkney's arts and wider cultural landscape in to the future.