£2.2m arts hub in the Highlands offers creative industries a new home

Wasps’ major new arts hub has opened in Inverness, following a £2.25million renovation of the former Inverness Royal Academy’s Midmills Building. The opening of the Inverness Creative Academy heralds the first major arts hub in the Highlands. The two-phase project aims to boost the economy by bringing together artists, makers and creative companies in a high-profile centre with the facilities they need to flourish.

The newly completed first phase of the building provides:

  • 30 studio spaces for artists, designers and makers.
  • A darkroom.
  • A large exhibition/events space in the old gym hall.

 

Fundraising is underway for the second phase of the wider £5.7m Inverness Creative Academy scheme which will provide:

  • 54 workspaces for creative industries and cultural social enterprises including long term office space and flexible co working spaces.
  • Public café within the restored former Assembly Hall
  • Fully accessible meeting rooms
  • Public exhibition, events and workshop spaces

The project is hoped to reach completion in the summer of 2020

Audrey Carlin, chief executive of Wasps Artists’ Studios: “The Highlands is a region of huge talent and creativity, but many people have been held back or forced to leave because there is too little studio space. The opening of the creative academy is an important first step towards reversing this trend and helping to build the strongest and most vibrant possible creative economy.”

“This is about retaining the Highlands cultural identity, allowing artists who want to stay in the Highlands to stay in the Highlands, to make work in the Highlands, and to make a living here and contribute to the economic climate here.”

Pete Honeyman, Subject Network Leader for Cultural and Creative Industries at the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: “This is a hugely welcome addition to the creative and cultural environment of Inverness, not just for the city but for the wider Highlands and Islands.

“Artists and makers can be transformational to cities and these facilities and the creative community they will nurture will improve and enrich quality of life. The creative academy will greatly enhance our graduates’ opportunities to work and stay in the Highlands and help further the region’s already burgeoning reputation as a place of artistic excellence.”

The project is supported by The Highland Council, The Scottish Government, Inverness City Heritage Trust and McCarthy,  Stone Retirement Lifestyles Limited and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

It represents a significant contribution to HIE’s Creative Industries Strategy which aimed to attract inward investment and make the Highlands an attractive location for creative individuals and enterprises.

James Gibbs, area manager at HIE’s Inner Moray Firth team, said: “Wasps have built a strong sustainable model for supporting creative communities in Scotland and we are delighted to have assisted them with a £420,000 grant towards this first phase of the Creative Academy development.

“The hub will offer shared work spaces for a variety of creative and cultural businesses and will attract young people to the area as well as create jobs for local people. At the same time, the project will bring a significant building back to life to support the rich creative community in the Inner Moray Firth area.”

The first phase of Inverness Creative Academy is operating at around 70% capacity with enough space at present for 30 artists.

Interested in a space in Phase 2? We want to hear from you!

If you are a creative individual or organisation and would be interested in applying for studio space, or if you would like to find out more, please visit:

www.invernesscreativeacademy.org.uk