STUDENTS affected by the fire at the Glasgow School of Art are to be offered a £750,000 fund to try to replace lost work – as it emerged the final cost of restoring its fire-damaged building could top £35 million.
A host of big-name supporters of the famous institution are expected to help launch a multi-million-pound appeal to help bring its Mackintosh building back to its former glory.
In the meantime, students will be able to bid for a share of the Glasgow School of Art Phoenix Bursary Fund to recreate their work and recover from the setback of missing their final degree show. The Scottish Government yesterday committed up to £750,000 to support the initiative.
The Phoenix Fund is aimed at allowing them to find studio space and help pay for their living costs while they create a new body of work which many require to further their careers.
Details of the financial support, which comes on top of a pledge of up to £5m from the Scottish Government to help restore the building, were announced on the same day it emerged that it could take four years to get the building fully re-opened.
Costs estimates are already expected to be between £20m and 35m, the art school has revealed. Although the building was fully insured and the UK government has also pledged support, the art school may have to raise between £10m and £20mn to help pay for the restoration. Giving evidence to MSPS, art school director Tom Inns, also revealed the joint investigation being carried out by police and fire chiefs into the “incident” on 23 May was still ongoing.
Meanwhile, experts from Historic Scotland confirmed 90 per cent of the iconic building had “survived more or less intact”.
The art school was forced to cancel this year’s degree show after many students lost work they had been making final preparations to in the fire.
MSPs were told how the annual graduation show provided a crucial showcase for the art school and departing students, which helped them secure links with galleries and build other important relationships.
Professor Inns said other institutions around the country, including Edinburgh College of Art and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, in Dundee, had pledged offers of assistance to graduates affected by the fire over the next few months, while students based in Glasgow may be able to find private studio space.
Scottish education secretary Michael Russell said: “As well as doing very serious damage to one of Scotland’s most iconic buildings, last month’s fire put the future opportunities available to some of Scotland’s most talented young artists in doubt.
“The Scottish Government has pledged to help the school through this very difficult period and I am very pleased to offer financial aid for their final year students.
“These are truly exceptional circumstances and no student should have their chance of potentially flourishing career affected by this awful incident. I hope our assistance will enable a talented group of students to show resilience and successfully create a new body of work.”
Meanwhile, Prof Inns said the art school had a “good sense” of the cause of the blaze, but had to wait until the official investigation was offer to comment further on what lessons could be learned.
He told Holyrood’s culture committee that the art school was in a “complex negotiation” with its insurers, but admitted it would need help to fund the planned restoration.
He said: “We have been in discussion with the insurance company and a team of people appointed to deal with the immediate securing of the building, and the estimates are probably somewhere between £20-£35 million.”