There is ‘good cheer’ and great excitement in Dunoon this week as the capital funding programme achieves the £1.65 million target required for the redevelopment of Dunoon Burgh Hall. The threshold was crossed with £300,000 awarded to the project by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. This success will now see work start on site early in the New Year, 2015.
HIE’s £300,000 investment will enable this 1874 listed building to be brought into the 21st century, with high quality facilities to match the excellent programme of events that the Dunoon Burgh Hall Trust [DBHT] has been running over the past five years.
Confirming the investment, HIE Area Manager, Douglas Cowan, says: ‘The work undertaken by DBHT, both in terms of the events, exhibitions and activities undertaken at the Burgh Hall in recent years and also in driving forward their ambitious redevelopment proposals have been outstanding. This project will ensure the sustainable use of an important building in the centre of Dunoon, amplifying the Burgh Hall’s role as a focal point for cultural activities and the communities of Dunoon and Cowal. HIE will work with DBHT to develop a robust and sustainable business model, maximising the social and economic benefits from the redeveloped Burgh Hall.’
Ann Campbell, the tireless and resourceful Venue Manager, says: ‘This is a welcome boost for our many volunteers, our directors and our supporters across the community. Whilst the Burgh Hall is now closed our volunteers are already busy clearing the building in preparation for works to commence early in the new year. There is still plenty of work to do and all help is very welcome.]
John McAslan, Chair of the DBHT and whose family trust made the substantial donations that got the project to the position of being capable of applying for awards to the necessary overall level – and who, with his wife, Dava Sagenkahm, has actively and energetically supported the development to date, has welcomed the announcement. He says: ‘This is great news for the Burgh Hall and great news for our community. The Burgh Hall is a key cultural asset for Dunoon and we look forward to working with HIE to develop the Burgh Hall into a sustainable community-owned asset benefiting our whole community.’
Since reopening in 2009 DBHT has established collaborations with a broad range of local and national partners including ARTIST ROOMS, Dunoon Film Festival, Glasgow School of Art and the Royal Conservatoire, to name but a few! The Trust is committed to providing a programme of activities that has something for everyone and the redeveloped Burgh Hall will provide the perfect venue. It will act as a cultural hub offering innovative events and activities.
The redevelopment will see the main hall fully restored with the balcony being brought back into use. There will be a climate controlled gallery suite, workshop rooms, meeting rooms and a new café bar. Works will also include creating full physical access for all and the creation of a glass-roofed café extension to the rear of the building.
In anticipation of the capital works project, the Burgh Hall closed its doors on Saturday 29th November with a ‘Fabulous Finale’ attended by over 1,000 people. During its reconstruction, the Burgh Hall’s programme will remain active with the continuation of its ongoing schedule in a range of local alternative venues, ensuring that the Hall’s audience has plenty to keep them interested before the venue reopens in Spring 2016.
HIE’s Ambitious for Culture policy recognises the value and the part that assets like the Burgh Hall play in making our region a more attractive place to live, work, study and invest.
At Argyll’s recent Economic Summit, held in Dunoon, the vital role played by access to cultural activities and the arts was discussed. This high quality cultural arts centre will play an integral part in making Dunoon attractive to investors, visitors and the wider community, adding value to other HIE investments in Dunoon and Cowal by providing a cultural focal point for events and activities, and making the area a better place to live, work and invest.
In addition to HIE’s investment, capital funding has been secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland, Creative Scotland and The Monument Trust.