Perth’s Cultural Renaissance Set to Unlock Sustainable Investment

Perth’s Cultural Renaissance Set to Unlock Sustainable Investment

Article by Perth & Kinross Council Leader, Grant Laing.

Perth Museum, the keystone of the cultural regeneration of the city which has been underway for a decade, will open this weekend.

The £27 million venue becomes the home of the Stone of Destiny, used in early Scottish Kingship ceremonies as well as recent coronations, including that of King Charles.

The museum not only cements Perth’s place as a prime cultural tourism destination for domestic and international visitors, but also attracts crucial inward investment into Scotland’s oldest capital, based on a targeted long-term strategy.

With a population of 50,000 people, Perth has been leveraging its cultural offer to attract attention. The council has a clear vision in its cultural strategy, investing around £53 million in new and old cultural assets in recent years. And it is working.

Perth Creative Exchange is nurturing the next generation of creative business talent. In 2021, Perth became the UK’s first UNESCO Creative City of Craft, and new public art commissions are lighting up the city and its night-time economy. These new initiatives join existing strengths including Perth Concert Hall, the internationally acclaimed Perth Festival of the Arts, and a £17 million refurbishment of the Edwardian Perth Theatre.

While culture has always been a cornerstone of Perth, known as ‘Craft’istown from the 16th century because of its many trade guilds, it also set itself an ambitious target to become Europe’s most sustainable small city. Perth is set to weave these unique strengths together to attract wider inward investment based on the principles of the Tay Cities Deal.

Our strategy focuses on culture to grow visitor market share and footfall in the city centre, and to build quality of life which can attract new talent and jobs. Crucially, there is a focus on growing the area’s small creative and craft businesses which are at the heart of its identity.

To thrive, city centres can no longer exist simply as retail destinations: they must offer a wider range of culture, leisure, and social experiences in innovative and inclusive ways. A hallmark of Perth’s cultural renaissance, Perth Museum is the latest and most ambitious statement of intent by the council, which will serve as a foundation block for the next phase of Perth and its economic development.

The city centre now has a new draw: a world-class visitor attraction which highlights Perth’s place at the heart of Scotland’s ancient and contemporary story, alongside a independent retail offer, local food and drink, and a growing hospitality sector. It is also a museum for the people of Perth and Kinross, many of whom have been involved in developing the displays and exhibitions. Maintaining such integrity and authenticity is foundational for city attractiveness.

Working with the Scottish and UK Governments, Perth is acting as a beacon for what can be achieved with the right investment strategy and cultural mix. This is adding to the powerful collective of the eight cities that form the Scottish Cities Alliance: Aberdeen, Dundee, Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Stirling, and of course Perth.

In line with our Team Scotland approach to amplify impact, Perth works closely with neighbouring cities, including through the £150 million Tay Cities Deal for investment in the region. It is just one example of how City Region Deals are accelerating growth and cultural investment across Scottish cities. Perth Museum, Inverness Castle, and the V&A Dundee are all funded by these agreements, with the latter reporting a £304 million benefit across the entire Scottish economy in the five years since it opened.

Whether locating, relocating, or investing, Perth offers all the strategic benefits of being centrally located in Scotland, without bearing the high land and property prices. Businesses in Perth already enjoy a quality commercial environment in a beautiful setting, an unrivalled quality of life, and excellent transport links to the rest of the UK and beyond.

Perth is strengthening that offer with a richer cultural landscape to achieve our goal of becoming Europe’s most sustainable small city. By leveraging culture, alongside our other strengths including a beautiful natural environment, we are getting closer to achieving the vision of holistic sustainability.

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