“Today Braemar is a vibrant community striving to become even better, with a raft of different projects under way. The economy of the village is heavily dependent on tourism……Now there is a real desire to extend further both summer and winter seasons by creating additional attractions to bring more visitors to Braemar, persuading them to stay longer and establishing a more robust economy.”
Braemar Community Action Plan. May 2013
In developing the St Margaret’s project, Historic Churches Scotland, local Project Group, and Jura Consultants carefully considered the findings of the Braemar Community Action Plan and Braemar Community Ltd.’s Visitor Management Plan. Complementing and enhancing existing provision for local people and visitors is a priority for the project, as is ensuring that St Margaret’s brings additional benefit to the community, making it an even better place to live.
Completed in July 2015, the St Margaret’s Braemar Performance and Artistic Venue Options Appraisal Report by Jura crystallises the Project Group’s vision for Braemar:
To establish an internationally renowned, high quality venue for the performing and visual arts in Royal Deeside which will attract performers and audiences from the local area, the rest of Scotland, and internationally. The distinctive programming will support the enhancement of Braemar as a visitor destination, a place to live and a place to work. This will in turn, and in tandem with other projects, support the development of the local economy.
The report also combines the Project Group’s vision for the Braemar community with Historic Churches Scotland’s ambition to save of one of Scotland’s foremost historic buildings:
To create a sustainable arts venue at St Margaret’s which will drive an expansion of arts and culture related activity within Braemar through the restoration and reuse of a significant heritage asset of national importance.
Importantly, the report identifies the need for collaboration and co-operation in order to achieve the goal of Braemar as a thriving community and a top quality visitor destination:
St Margaret’s has the potential to function as a driver of tourism development generating associated social and economic benefits to Braemar and the surrounding area. St Margaret’s cannot however yield significant social and economic impact in isolation. Area-based destination development involving collaborative and collective action with other key stakeholders in the Braemar, Royal Deeside and Cairngorms National Park tourism offer is crucial.
A viable option is identified in Jura’s report, which Historic Churches Scotland and the local project group will take forward together. Having existed as a subgroup of Braemar Community Ltd., the project group will now become a charitable body in its own right: the St Margaret’s Trust. At its core, the Trust will have the advancement of the arts, heritage and culture; the advancement of education; and the advancement of community development.
In St Margaret’s, the Trust aims not only to create a unique and high calibre venue but also a magnet: a way of drawing new artists, musicians and performers to all Braemar’s venues, increasing their use and sustainability.