Match funding

The story of our first year of Culture and Business Fund Scotland Match Funding in 2021

“By partnering with Nairn Book and Arts Festival, AES Solar, Fred. Olsen Renewables and Nairn’s Oatcakes are boosting the cultural tourism profile of the area, which.. supports the local economy and helps bring the local community together.”

— David Watt, Chief Executive of Arts and Business Scotland

After a year when we had had to cancel our live event for the first time in the Festival’s 16 year history and run it online instead, we were keen to get back to holding our much anticipated annual programme of live cultural events.

Having had a tough year financially, funding and sponsorship were high priorities, and we wanted to try and achieve matched funding for the first time. We’d been encouraged by Catriona Reynolds of Arts and Business during a brilliantly helpful Creative Scotland-supported Governance day in 2019.

Our first task was to find sponsors willing to support us at the required £1000 level; we approached Nairn’s Oatcakes – yes, the name encouraged us, but also the fact that the Chairman was a local. We had a really positive response from them, which encouraged us to reach out to other companies. We wanted to connect with companies which held values similar to our own, and our chosen theme that year was ‘Close to Nature’s Heart’, linking to Scotland’s ‘Year of Coasts and Waters’. Local companies dealing in clean energy and renewables seemed an obvious choice. We approached AES Solar, a Forres-based firm, and after a friendly Zoom meeting, they were on board, with Fred. Olsen Renewables following close behind. Fred Olsen are constructing a wind farm in an area to the South of Nairn and were keen to engage the local community.


The process of applying to Culture and Business Fund Scotland was relatively straightforward given the straitened circumstances. This was helpful, during an extremely testing time, when Covid restrictions were subject to frequent change. We were still more or less in lockdown, and very unsure of being able to stage a live event come September.

Our matched funding allowed us to fully realise all of our ambitions for our free outdoor events involving families and children which bookended the festival - they brought much fun, joy and creative activity to the community:

· samba music by local young drummers, The Penguin’s Tuxedo

· a costumed children’s parade with sea-creatures and eco-heroes

· dancing with flags

· live music, poetry and performance by local musicians and drama groups of all ages

· the unforgettable visit by STORM, the giant sea goddess puppet by Vision Mechanics

We raised £3500 in individual £1000+ sponsorships from three new sponsors, which meant a match funded total of £7000.

“Supporting events on our doorstep such as the Nairn Book and Arts Festival has always been a cause close to our hearts while also aligning closely with our company goals and values. We believe supporting events like this that give back to the local community is more important than ever after the past year. … we were delighted to offer our support as headline sponsor to this fantastic local event championing literature, art, music, drama, and film in the Scottish Highlands.”

— George Goudsmit, Managing Director of AES Solar
Support sponsor1

“At Nairn’s Oatcakes we believe that it is important to encourage organisations and festivals which make the arts as accessible as possible to as many people as possible in Scotland and is true to our ethos of supporting local communities.”

— Mark Laing, Chairman of Nairn’s Oatcakes

“ We are committed to working with the communities and stakeholders neighbouring our wind farm projects. Our participation enables us to engage with even more local residents whilst supporting this fantastic community initiative.”

— Finley Becks-Phelps, UK Development Director of Fred.Olsen Renewables

We have now got the confidence to build on this year’s success, going forward with two aims -

  • to continue to work with our current matched sponsors for a second year
  • to add another new partnership to the list

We would encourage any eligible arts organisation to go down the CBFS match-funding route and we’d be happy to talk further to anyone about our experience.

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