The Barn began its life as a cultural space in the early 1990’s when the Burnett family of Leys offered the use of a derelict farm steading and cattle byre as a makeshift rehearsal space for a community play, designed to celebrate the anniversary of 400 years of Crathes Castle and community life in Banchory. Energised by the success of the play, which involved 200 local people in its making and presentation, a small committee of local residents, artists and supporters took over the Barn, and began the long journey of transforming the former farm site into, what is now, Aberdeenshire’s leading multi-arts venue, welcoming artists, performers and visitors from across the world.
Banchory has a rich history of welcoming people from far and wide, drawn here by the stunning natural environment, vibrant local culture and employment in a range of industries. From its growth as a popular holiday destination in the 19thcentury following Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s establishment of a royal holiday home at Balmoral, to the stationing of the Canadian Forestry Corps in Banchory in the 1940s, and the more recent influx of multi-national residents linked to Aberdeen's Oil and Gas industry - new waves of visitors and residents have brought ideas, contacts and skills and connected Deeside culturally with the wider world. The Barn is proud to be part of this vibrant heritage.
A detailed history of the Barn’s origins can be read in John Hargreave’s essay From Cattle Court to Community Arts, An Historical Memoir of the early years of Woodend Arts Association published in 2005 by Woodend Publishing.