Celebrations over Creative Scotland £9.4m handouts

The grant from Creative Scotland will allow City Observatory to host major art exhibitions. Picture: Kate Chandler
The grant from Creative Scotland will allow City Observatory to host major art exhibitions. Picture: Kate Chandler
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SIGNATURE arts projects across Scotland are to share in a windfall worth almost £9.5 million.

Refurbishment, restoration and new-build projects have effectively been given the green light by the national arts funding body, Creative Scotland.

The annual round of funding for capital projects has seen grants of up to £1.5m allocated to allow work to begin on large-scale projects, with £9.4m ringfenced.

A long-awaited overhaul of the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, the transformation of a historic Catholic seminary and architectural gem in Argyll into a new arts centre, and a revamp of Aberdeen’s historic Music Hall are scheduled.

The funding, which has come via the National Lottery, represents around 10 per cent of Creative Scotland’s annual budget. Projects bid for between £100,000 and £2m for major improvements to existing buildings or new projects, although the quango insists its capital fund is not aimed at enabling uses for “unused or problem buildings”.

Creative Scotland’s chief executive Janet Archer said: “These funding awards support important elements of the cultural infrastructure across Scotland and will enable exciting and important projects to progress and develop.

“All of these awards, and those that have come before, help to ensure that more people, in more parts of Scotland, can continue to access and enjoy excellent artistic and creative experiences.”

The biggest grants, of £1.5m, were pledged for the 155-year-old Music Hall, in Aberdeen, to help pay for a new studio space, a restoration of its auditorium and a new box office, and the biggest refurbishment in the history of the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, which dates back to 1878.

Dominic Hill, artistic director of the Citizens Theatre, said: “This project will ensure the Citizens continues to deliver world-class theatre for the benefit of local, national and international audiences and today’s award is an important step in our journey towards realising that vision.”

Jane Spiers, chief executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts, said: “This is a great vote of confidence in our project. The Music Hall is Scotland’s concert hall in the north-east – it’s a favourite with musicians and performers all over the world.”

There are significant boosts, of £1.4m and £900,000 respectively, for two Edinburgh galleries. The Fruitmarket, on Market Street, will be refurbished and significantly extended, while the Collective Gallery has won backing for its move to two neglected buildings on top of Calton Hill, including the city’s old observatory.

Catherine Muirden, chair of the Fruitmarket, said: “We are pleased and proud to have been awarded this money by Creative Scotland. Both the money, and the vote of confidence it implies, represent a major step forward in our drive to improve the gallery for all its audiences.”

Kate Gray, director of the Collective Gallery, which only recently relocated to their new premises on Calton Hill, said: “We are in the old dome building at the moment but this funding will allow us to start refurbishing the observatory building for our next phase.”

The Argyll town of Dunoon’s historic Burgh Hall, which dates back to 1874, will be turned into a new cultural hub, while the former St Peter’s Seminary, at Cardross, near Helensburgh, will undergo a transformation from a neglected modernist masterpiece to a venue capable of housing plays and concerts. An existing artists’ hub at Cove Park, also near Helensburgh, will be replaced with a much bigger complex, while Woodend Barn, a music, theatre and visual arts venue in Banchory, in Aberdeenshire, will benefit from seating, sound and lighting equipment, as well as new accommodation for artists.

The Glasgow Film Theatre, the home of the city’s film festival, will undergo a further phase of refurbishment, which saw a third screen installed in time for its 40th birthday celebrations. The next phase will see creating a downstairs bar area, a canopy and foyer, with staircases and lifts installed.

Jaki McDougall, chief executive of Glasgow Film, the organisation which runs the GFT and the film festival, said: “2014 is a huge celebration for us: the 75th anniversary of The Cosmo opening in Rose Street, the 40th year of GFT and the 10th edition of the film festival, all in such an exciting year for the city and its people.

“This award will support the next phase of our extension after the addition of our new cinema-3 space, enriching the social experience of our cinema-goers and creating additional spaces in which we can host cultural and educational events.”

Among the most historic buildings due to benefit from the distribution of the National Lottery cash are Hospitalfield, the Arbroath country house, a home for artists for more than 120 years, which will undergo a major restoration.


Woodend Barn: A £126,277 grant will pay for new seating, sound and lighting equipment at the Royal Deeside venue, as well as the development of accommodation to enable the complex to host residencies for artists.

Hospitalfield: The country house and its estate, which is based on a historic coastal site at Arbroath overlooking the North Sea, was left in trust in 1890 to support education in the arts. This project, which has been pledged £1 million, will develop and improve on existing facilities for artists.

Dunoon Burgh Hall: Some £621,000 will be spent on the building – opened in 1874, but largely empty since the 1960s.

Glasgow Film Theatre: £500,000 has been set aside for new catering facilities, a new foyer area, an education room, a staff and volunteers’ area, and meeting spaces.

Woodlands Community Development Trust: A grant of £114,071 will help pay for work spaces and studios for artists, as well as encourage new projects for a nearby community garden.

Music Hall: The £1.5m pledged from Creative Scotland means £3.75m has now been secured for the 19th-century venue where chart-topper Emeli Sande first performed.

Cove Park: The existing complex, located on the Rosneath Peninsula overlooking Loch Long, offers year-round residencies to artists from around the world. The £621,663 grant will pay for a new building, which will offer expanded studio space for artists, as well as a public performance and exhibition space.

St Peter’s Seminary: £500,000 has been pledged for Glasgow-based arts group NVA’s bid to revive one of Scotland’s forgotten architectural gems, creating exhibition, performance and workshop spaces in the building, which dates back to 1966.

Fruitmarket Gallery: The £1.5m pledge will kickstart a £6m fundraising campaign to overhaul existing spaces and pay for an extension to the current building, which is said to be “no longer fit for purpose”.

Collective Gallery: The City Observatory on Calton Hill, created by celebrated architect William Henry Playfair, has been closed for several years. The £1m grant from Creative Scotland will help allow the building to house major contemporary art exhibitions.

Citizens Theatre: The £1.5m grant from Creative Scotland has come in the wake of Glasgow City Council pledging £4m for what will be the biggest-ever refurbishment. Work is due to begin in 2016 on a full renovation of the Victorian auditorium, new bar and cafe facilities, and rehearsal spaces.

Tramway: One of the city’s flagship contemporary art centres, which was previously home to the city’s museum, was redeveloped in time for the city’s reign as European Capital of Culture in 1990. The £100,000 grant will pay for sound equipment to “afford artists greater scope for creation”.

Briggait: A £1m grant will see an unused part of Glasgow’s old fishmarket building, now a multi-purpose arts complex, become a new centre for circus, dance, street theatre, trapeze and aerial performance. The Briggait, which is run by arts group Wasps, is already home to 145 creative workers.