Arts festival racks up nearly £1m economic benefit despite challenging financial climate

Organisers of the Findhorn Bay Festival have calculated that the event spanning 10 days last autumn, delivered nearly a million pounds worth of economic impact to the area, and attracted an estimated 11,000 attendees and 900 participants.

Findhorn Bay Arts has published its Festival Evaluation Report which details the outcomes and impact of the fourth Findhorn Bay Festival on its return after a four-year break. Held biennially, it missed a beat interrupted in 202) due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following the event, Findhorn Bay Arts undertook an in-depth post-event evaluation through online feedback surveys and face-to-face conversations with visitors, artists, community groups, partners, volunteers, local businesses and participants to gather constructive feedback, identify areas for improvement and plan for a more sustainable future for the Festival.

Positive benefits

Kresanna Aigner, Festival Director and CEO of Findhorn Bay Arts, said: “This evaluation demonstrates the resounding positive economic and social benefits brought to the local area through the staging of the Findhorn Bay Festival.

“The festival continues to perform an invaluable role in driving domestic and international visitors to local high streets, boosting consumer spending on food, drink and accommodation and has a demonstrable impact in economic terms.”

Staged between 23 September and 2 October, the fourth Findhorn Bay Festival saw over 90 ticketed and free events take place across 10 days with 281 individual artists and creative practitioners participating, attracting an estimated 11,061 attendances* across free events, ticketed shows and creative activities. 

The festival saw participation from over 898 people and the employment of 327 people to help deliver the programme, including artists and performers, Findhorn Bay Arts’ core team, Shop and Box Office Assistants, event managers, production crew, technical support staff and freelance creative professionals. 


Volunteer participants played a crucial role in delivering events and activities with 69 people ranging from the ages of 16 to over 80 contributing their time as Festival stewards and providing support to participating community organisations.

The evaluation found that the fourth instalment of the festival received strong support locally and nationally, with 50.7% of the audience drawn from the Moray area. A further 41.1% visited from other areas in Scotland and 8.2% of visitors traveled from further afield across the UK and the rest of the world, including the US, Europe and Ireland.

From the figures obtained, almost 40% of people spent between £20 and £50 locally while attending the Festival, and the average person spend when attending the Festival was calculated to be £52.85. 

Inspired to visit again

Approximately 85% of visitors from outside the area said the festival was the primary reason for visiting Moray, and 94% of visitors from outside the area said they felt inspired to visit Moray again.

Overall the Festival delivered an estimated £987,948 in local economic benefit through an estimated visitor spend of £752,120 and £235,828 in project spend. The estimated visitor spend was derived using the VisitScotland Visitor Spend Economic Measurement method. 

Presented by Findhorn Bay Arts and supported by Scotland’s Year of Stories, Creative Scotland, Berry Burn Community Fund and Culture Collective Scotland, the Findhorn Bay Festival overcame several unprecedented challenges and pressures on its return.

These included the new Covid-19 Omicron variant, the ongoing impact of UK’s exit from the EU, the economic effects of the war in Ukraine, rising food, fuel and energy costs, and UK Government’s now-infamous mini-budget (delivered on 23 September – the first day of the Festival) – all of which had a significant effect on consumer confidence and spending on non-essential items such as tickets to performances and cultural events.

Challenging times

Kresanna added: “The results of our evaluation are even more remarkable given the incredible challenging circumstances we faced with the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and with the growing pressures of an emerging cost of living crisis. 

“It is testament to the hard work of the festival team and the support of our brilliant business and community partners who rose to the challenge to help us make creative things happen last year. 

“The festival provided a platform for local and visiting creative talent, provided employment opportunities both for creative practitioners and technical support – and most importantly it brought people together once again.

“What is clear is that whatever the circumstances, in good times and bad, arts and culture continue to have a hugely positive impact on so many parts of our lives.” 

A spokesperson for the Berry Burn Community Fund said: “The Berry Burn Community Fund was happy to be able to support this event which has such a beneficial impact on the local community”.

Findhorn Bay Arts have been consistently recognised and rewarded for their contribution to the local economy, to tourism in Moray and to the benefit of the wider community. They were awarded the 20th Anniversary SURF Scotland Creative Regeneration Award in 2018 and were shortlisted again in 2022.

The Findhorn Bay Festival is expected to return on 20 to 29 September 2024 (subject to funding).  

Read the full Evaluation Report here. 

Main image: Scotland’s National Orchestra in Forres Town Hall during the festival. Pic: Marc Hindley

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