Three Scottish towns have won a total of £300,000 after being honoured in the annual Creative Place awards.
Pathhead in Midlothian, Huntly in Aberdeenshire, and Kilmarnock in Ayrshire scooped the windfall in the event, which aims to celebrate communities attempting to run or expand local cultural initiatives. Musical initiatives in Midlothian, the long-running arts events in Huntly and the festivals of Kilmarnock and east Ayrshire secured the prizes in the event run by the national arts funding body, Creative Scotland.
The awards, hosted by Dougie Vipond with The Herald as media partner, were announced at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews.
Iain Munro, director of creative development at Creative Scotland, said: "These three communities are fantastic examples of how embedding arts and culture within the foundation of a community strengthens and improves people's lives, impacting the social and economic wellbeing of the community.
"The awards celebrate how arts and creativity can promote the identity and character of a place. The creative vitality and energy demonstrated in this year's shortlist is extremely impressive."
The awards are for places with up to 2500, 10,000 and 100,000 inhabitants.
In the under-2500 category Pathhead won £50,000 for its Pathhead Music Collective, which aims to make the town – already home to 15 acclaimed musicians including Karine Polwart and Tom Bancroft – "internationally renowned as a centre of musical excellence".
In the under-10,000 category Huntly won £100,000 for its "roaming initiative", which will combine walking with cultural exercises.
Deveron Arts, run by Claudia Zeiske, has been at the centre of various eclectic cultural activities in the town for the last 15 years, with its Walks of Life plan the latest.
Kilmarnock won £150,000 for plans to place new cultural work in vacant shops and enable the town's festivals, including the Kilmarnock Edition Festival, Kilmarnock Fair Festival, Summer Symphony, Harvest and Imprint Festivals, to expand their programmes.
The application process for the next awards in 2014 will open in the spring, with an autumn deadline.
Local Government and Planning Minister Derek Mackay said: "The Creative Place Awards provide inspiration for our people and visitors by encouraging and promoting the exceptional creative programmes that are taking place in towns, villages and communities across the country."
St Andrews won last year's award for places with up to 100,000 residents, and Alan Tricker, the Byre Theatre's chief executive, said: "Being a recipient of the Creative Place Award has been tremendous for the Byre Theatre and St Andrews."