Ideas for 2009 The Gathering

Letter Blairgowrie Advertiser 15th November 2007

A very interesting meeting was held on Tuesday 6th November at the Royal Hotel Blairgowrie, regarding the setting up of a ‘Blairgowrie Broadcasting Company’. (Blairie, 18th October, Blair on the airwaves?). Organised by Strathmore and the Glens it was hosted with a certain va va voom by Councillor Caroline Shiers.

The meeting immediately gave an overview of the importance of such a venture. Communication, the ability to bring people together, to work together, to create something greater than individuals or organisations can achieve on their own. Whatever ones political affiliation, or even if you haven’t one, my own view is the importance of supporting the Scottish Governments aspiration to make Scotland the best country in the world. We are part of that country and all that we sense, do and strive for is within the context of that country. A country is not just people or economics, it is the land, the animals and plants, everything that combines and relates together to make the spirit or essence of this place we call Scotland. Something which transcends party politics.

An positive aspect of the meeting was those who attended presented ideas relating to community broadcasting in Blairgowrie which covered a broad agenda. Involvement of young people, schools and colleges. The learning of new skills, the striving for quality, the sense of dynamism and achievement etc.

There was a strong feeling community broadcasting would contribute and enhance existing events already operating in Blair. Braemar Night amongst many was one example given. A live internet broadcast would give a potential global audience with an interest in Scottish, Celtic and Highland culture. Ex-pats all over the world could ‘tune into Blair broadcasting’. Closer to home it gives access to events in the town for the elderly, disabled or anyone who could not get out to attend.. With a greater audience this allows the enhancement of Braemar Night, if your going to broadcast to a wider audience, give them something to hunger for. Lights, lasers, projection screens, anything is possible. An opportunity for young people in the area to practice and display their skills in communication technologies, event management.

Such potential needs strategy, direction and channelling. 2009 presents an opportunistic goal. Edinburgh will host “The Gathering”, the largest meeting of the clans in 200 years, with 8000 clan members and 30,000 visitors it is expected to put £5 million into the Scottish economy. How can Blairgowrie contribute and benefit from this?

From the ideas expressed by those attended the meeting, combined with the challenges the Braemar Association want to resolve, (Event organisers fear for the future, Blairie 29th March) i.e. lack of young people involved and diminished audience, an effective strategy could develop. By combining community broadcasting with Braemar Night, a spectacular event for 2008 could be delivered.

Conceptualise this as something like ‘Heralding the Gathering’, supporting the Edinburgh event. Do a live audio-visual internet broadcast of the event. Make the broadcast available as a podcast, especially see if this can be linked from the ‘The Gathering’ website. The 2008 Braemar Night, is the ‘practice’ then for the next event. Something like ‘Welcoming the Gathering’, coinciding around the time of the event in Edinburgh in July 2009. With the communication infrastructure in place and tried out, this can be a total Blairgowrie initiative, an opportunity for every individual and organisation to take part and benefit. It also provides a foundation for the future. If young people from Blair have an ambition to do something like the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth games, here is the opportunity to get the experience. As was said at the meeting there is so much talent in Blair.

The opening point of the meeting was communication. This is our most important asset, The Blairgowrie Advertiser, both in it’s paper and online form. Then the various websites of all the organisations in Blair and covering Blair, Blairgowrie Merchants, Heart of Blair, BEPTA, VisitScotland, Strathmore and the Glens etc. With these comes the drive, the conversation in the streets, churches, pubs, schools and shops etc of our community.

One thing the meeting forgot to do was record itself. Broadcast to a wider audience it would have been pure entertaining current affairs.

The Scottish Government has the aspiration to make Scotland the best country in the world. At the heart of that country is Blairgowrie. If they want a Celtic Lion, let community broadcasting help give them a town they can have a pride in, and an example and model for the rest of Scotland.

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