Leading cultural venues in Aberdeen’s city centre have added their support to Aberdeen Inspired’s Back the BID campaign, praising its work in positioning the Granite City as a rich cultural centre.

Jane Spiers, chief executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts, and Colin Farquhar, head of cinema operations at the Belmont Filmhouse, are the latest business leaders to add their voice to the campaign, saying the Business Improvement District “brings people to culture and culture to the people”.

In line with Scotland’s other BIDs, Aberdeen Inspired must ballot the businesses within the BID footprint every five years.

A successful ballot on June 24 will ensure it can continue working on behalf of local shops, bars, restaurants, property owners, landlords, shopping centres and all other city centre businesses until at least 2026.

Jane and her team at Aberdeen Performing Arts, which runs city arts venues His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen Music Hall and The Lemon Tree, work closely with the Aberdeen Inspired team to bring festivals such as Nuart to the city. The acclaimed international street art festival will return to Aberdeen next month.

She said the continuation of the BID would be a boost for the region’s cultural scene and urged businesses to vote positively.

“Aberdeen Performing Arts is delighted to be part of our active and successful city centre BID,” said Jane. “Aberdeen Inspired performs a critical co-ordinating role for the city’s many and varied business interests, facilitating joint working and championing city centre regeneration.

“Aberdeen’s rich cultural offering is a massive magnet for visitors. In an average year, in our three venues alone, we welcome more than one million people through our doors, helping to bring essential footfall to our streets and neighbouring businesses.

“We are grateful to Aberdeen Inspired for all the support, advice and encouragement that helps us grow our business. This includes Granite Noir, our spring crime-writing festival, and True North, our autumn music festival.

“Aberdeen Inspired’s bold and imaginative interventions in partnership with the cultural sector in the city, with festivals like Nuart and the Aberdeen International Comedy Festival, mean our streets are alive with culture throughout the year.”

Jane added: “Aberdeen Inspired are great ambassadors for the city. We look forward to continuing to work together to bring life, creativity, colour and investment to our city region and urge other levy payers to vote in favour of the BID.”

Colin Farquhar also praised Aberdeen Inspired’s partnership work in the arts.

“We’re very happy to support Aberdeen Inspired’s effort to continued leading Aberdeen’s city centre strategies as we come out of what has been a very challenging year for the city. We can’t think of anyone more suited to leading a vibrant campaign as the regeneration efforts get underway.

“The city centre is a diverse community of businesses but we’ve always been impressed by Aberdeen Inspired’s openness to working with the cultural and night-time sectors, who have been so important to Aberdeen in the past but will be even more important in the future as we aim to take people back into the city,” he said.

“We’ve really benefited from being able to partner on festivals like NUART Aberdeen, where we were able to host an amazing interview with the artist John Byrne, the Aberdeen International Comedy Festival and Granite Noir among others.

“These are major cultural draws that help us reach new audiences and allow us to coordinate with other cultural venues in the city centre. They do a great job of bringing people to culture and culture to the people.

“And they also give us a voice to communicate with other businesses who we might not so naturally partner with – it’s a crucial time and that forum will be so important as we support each other to the other side of this pandemic.”

Aberdeen Inspired was established to attract, sustain and boost investment in Aberdeen’s city centre for the benefit of its levy payers and all those who live, work, shop and visit there.

In addition to the levy payments, which go to support city centre improvements and initiatives, the BID brought in an additional £2million in other funding in 2020, almost double what is collected by levy. An achievement that would not have been possible without Aberdeen Inspired, it means that for every £1 of levy collected, at least £2 is invested in the city centre.

The average levy equates to around £5 per week - at just 1% of rateable value, it is the lowest in the country.

In recognition of the challenging times faced by businesses as a result of the pandemic, the levy in Aberdeen would be reduced by half in the first term (2021-22), dropping to just 0.5% of rateable value for the first year. 

The BID footprint covers Union Street and the surrounding streets, including Broad Street, Market Street, Bridge Street, Huntly Street and Holburn Junction.

Following approval of a short extension amid the Covid-19 restrictions, which have seen many businesses forced to close, the vote opened on May 13. Eligible businesses have until 5pm on June 24 to have their say.