We know that a few people who have never been to the north-east of Scotland believe that, if not actually contiguous, it’s certainly halfway to the North Pole. Then we point out to them that it’s one of the most prosperous and well connected places in the UK, with a wealth based on the oil industry but rooted in the fact that even before oil Aberdeen was still the third city in Scotland, with well-developed industry and infrastructure and a thriving arts scene.
Despite that, for some there is still a concern that if they come to work at RGU and live in the north-east, they’ll be leaving behind the culture and entertainment they are used to elsewhere. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I hope to demonstrate in this brief blog.
Aberdeen Performing Arts is one of the main hubs for culture in the city. There are three principal venues – His Majesty’s Theatre, which is one of Scotland’s best, longest established venues for drama; the Music Hall, a huge part of cultural, civic and community life in the city for more than 150 years; and the Lemon Tree, for more contemporary arts and music.
You can regularly see and hear national ballet and opera companies and orchestras, comedians such as Jeremy Hardy, Andy Hamilton and Andy Parsons, folk, jazz and rock bands (the bigger ones go to the AECC below), plus a whole host of other light entertainment and variety shows.
Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre is a large venue on the north side of the city. Home to many major exhibitions, including enormous international events such as Offshore Europe, you’ll also see bigger bands and comedians perform here. In the recent past/near future the likes of Kevin Bridges, Michael McIntyre, Simple Minds, the Prodigy, Simply Red and Status Quo have or will take to the AECC’s stage.
Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums offers a wide range of venues, from the Maritime Museum to Provost Skene’s House and the Tolbooth Museum (which includes one of “the best preserved 17th century gaols in Scotland”!). Current exhibitions (at the time of writing) include “the Creative Genius of Stanley Spencer” and the work of the portrait painter George Jamesone. There are also Lunchbreak Concerts throughout the year and the “Get Creative” programme for those wishing to develop their own artistic talents.
Finally in this brief survey, there is the Aberdeen Culture Network, formed in February 2014 (as part of the Community Planning Group in the city) to support the development of arts and culture in the city. The existence of this group shows just how seriously the city authorities take the preservation and development of the area’s culture and the City Council invests £millions per annum to support the arts, including the two bodies named above, with more coming from Aberdeenshire Council to help local arts and culture throughout the wider north-east.
There are, of course, lots more examples of the thriving arts scene in Aberdeen, however, we hope this snapshot has whetted your appetite and made you realise that, while we may be further north than Covent Garden, you can enjoy as full a range of culture and entertainment as you would in any other major city.