The owner of one of the many venues which has benefited from Aberdeen Inspired’s focus on reinvigorating Aberdeen’s historic The Green has today spoken of his pride in the area’s renaissance.
Steve Bothwell, who owns Café 52, has called on other business owners to lend their support to Aberdeen Inspired’s Back the BID campaign to secure a positive vote in its forthcoming ballot.
He praised the city centre Business Improvement District (BID) for initiatives such as the Inspired Nights on The Green street food festival and international street art festival Nuart Aberdeen, which have both brought thousands of visitors to The Green and the surrounding area.
Nuart will return to the city next month.
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 restaurants, shops, bars, property owners, landlords, shopping centres and all other city centre businesses until at least 2026.
Café 52 has welcomed customers for more than 25 years but Steve credits Aberdeen Inspired with further enhancing its success.
“If there’s a time we need Aberdeen Inspired it is now,” he said. “For most of us, the last 12 months have been very worrying. Our malls are closing, folding or downsizing. Footfall in the city has diminished and hundreds have lost their jobs.
“Online shopping has triumphed during lockdown and we need a collective determination to restart our city. Aberdeen must again embrace its local traders and promote the human contact that cements that wonderful bond that gives the city, personality, life, zest, interest, intrigue and culture.
“Café 52 has traded successfully for over 25 years, but the latter five years was enhanced by our relationship with Aberdeen Inspired.”
The Inspired Nights on The Green festival brought live music and street food from around the world to The Green over the summer, while Nuart Aberdeen is the only street art festival in Scotland and one of the UK’s leading festivals of its kind.
Artists from around the globe transform bare walls and buildings around Aberdeen city centre with works of art, which are then free for visitors and locals to enjoy all year round.
Aberdeen Inspired reported that the Nuart Aberdeen launch weekend attracted record numbers, with 30,000 visitors – almost a 5% increase in footfall week on week and the busiest days for the month of April 2019.
“Nuart and the Street food festival provided a huge amount of energy to the business, The Green and throughout the historic streets and lanes,” said Steve. “The public embraced these wonderful offerings and footfall in the city sky-rocketed. People of all ages met in random city corners and were blown away by the inspired art adorning once bland facades.
“The Street food festival was a work of genius, tucking comfortably into The Green where historic traders once thrived. I seriously felt The Green was reborn and I even shed a tear, I was proud to play a part in its renaissance.”
For Steve and his fellow business owners around The Green, these projects brought a tangible sense of community.
“The young and the old smiled broadly at each other, shared stories and were generous to the wonderful and diverse traders who themselves made a huge effort for the monthly event to succeed,” he said.
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.
The average levy equates to around £5 per week - at just 1% of rateable value, it is the lowest in the country and for every £1 of levy collected, at least £2 is invested in the city centre.
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.
Eligible businesses have until 5pm on June 24 to have their say.
Steve urged levy payers to vote in favour of retaining Aberdeen Inspired for the next five years, saying: “Aberdeen Inspired have indeed inspired. They are a wonderful organisation with the spirit of the city at its heart. They are genuine, kind, caring and proactive. We need Aberdeen Inspired in our lives and we all need to work together to reboot the cultural offerings that enliven us all and shine a light on this wonderful city.”
The BID footprint covers Union Street and the surrounding streets, including Broad Street, Market Street, Bridge Street, Huntly Street and Holburn Junction.