Case Studies

2015 Entrepreneurship Award Winner - Buchanan Food & Woodend Barn

Project story

Woodend Barn and Buchanan Food successfully collaborated on a year of sponsored activities designed to showcase the environmental values and sustainability practices of both organisations, and to highlight the significant role of artists and creativity within environmental learning. During 2014 a programme of £8,750 of support was devised that enabled Woodend Barn to extend its creative engagement and fundraising activities. The sponsorship delivered three diverse projects – Seasonal Dishes workshops, Young Chefs classes and Pull Up A Chair Fundraising Dinner & Auction.

Pull Up A Chair was the Barn’s main fundraising event in 2014/15 with a set fundraising target of £10,000. The chair motif was used to underpin the importance both organisations place on hospitality, social engagement, creativity and conversation.  A formal dinner, catered by Buchanan Food, was followed by a live performance and Q&A from percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and a silent art auction featuring donated chair-themed artworks from sculptor Andy Scott, comedian Jeremy Hardy and musicians Idlewild, Joan Armatrading, Julie Fowlis and Twin Atlantic.  The evening secured £28,000 of funding for Woodend Barn, and generated new business relationships for the organisation.

Seasonal Dishes focused on creative and intergenerational learning, skills development, and social nourishment. 80 participants collaborated with ceramicist Hilary Duncan and chef Val Buchanan of Buchanans Bistro over the course of 26 workshops. Everyone who attended a class made a bowl or vessel out of clay incorporating drawings or impressions of herbs, flowers or vegetables, all sourced locally. Val discussed seasonal food choices and prepared a meal for each season using locally available produce.  All those taking part in the classes were invited to share in a final communal meal, eating from the bowl they had made. The project culminated in an exhibition in the Woodend Barn Gallery of all the bowls created and an auction of a number of large collaborative bowls to fundraise for the Barn.

Young Chefs was devised as a practical and bespoke learning opportunity for 8-11 year olds, working with professional chefs to gain an introduction to sound food choices, issues of food waste and to be taught how to prepare and cook fresh food.  An added learning benefit was the opportunity to participate within a professional working kitchen and experience cooking as a creative vocation. 

The sponsoring partnership has generated creative, financial, sustainable practice and relationship legacies that have the potential to transform our future way of working and our commitment to sustaining creativity in the North East of Scotland.

Arts/cultural organisation story

Woodend Barn is the largest multi-arts venue in Aberdeenshire, offering an ambitious programme of 150 performances and 200 workshops a year. The Barn’s mission statement is to “work collaboratively through the arts, connecting communities through creativity and friendship”.  Harnessing the skills and energy of our diverse, extended team is central to our way of working.

The Pull Up A Chair dinner and auction was designed to launch a new approach to fundraising and creative hospitality. The theme of “chairs” – signifying that the Barn was actively inviting businesses in – was used as a motif for the 3-d promotional material and featured heavily in commissioned and donated artworks. The event provided a quality platform to present organisational values centred on creativity, the environment and community to a range of regional businesses in the North East for the first time.  

The high-quality pitch of the event served to underpin Woodend Barn’s ability to operate at a professional “corporate” level, and helped secure additional support from Sir Ian Wood’s “Wood Foundation”. The event generated £28,000 of earned income and significant goodwill from business guests, with further individual donations being made to the Barn in the following months.

Business organisation story

Creative entrepreneurship has enabled Buchanan Food to evolve and grow – from 2 staff in 2005 to a 50-cover, award-winning, organic, wholefood Bistro and event-catering business now employing over 25 staff. They have strong founding principles rooted in the belief that sustainable and ethical food is central to community, individual and planetary health. Marrying these principles with business and market realities presents many challenges and the realisation that an arts organisation faced similar business challenges (and there was shared journey of creative, ethical entrepreneurship to be taken) was inspiring.

This was Buchanan Food’s first experience as a business partner with an arts organisation. There have been commercial challenges, entrepreneurial exchanges and joint creative benefits.

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