Inverness creative hub celebrates successful first year

Inverness Creative Academy

INVERNESS Creative Academy, the Highlands’ first major creative hub, has welcomed more than 30,000 visitors to its exhibitions and artist spaces during the first 12 months of the centre’s completion.

Since it was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal last summer, the centre – operated by Wasps (Workshop and Artists Studio Provision Scotland) – has hosted 21 art exhibitions and its 32 studios for resident artists are already fully occupied. Most recently, 53 office and flexible working spaces were completed, and only 10 vacant units now remain for lease by creatives, social enterprises or charities.

Inverness Creative Academy also runs a successful community engagement programme, called Inverness Openarts, which provides free, open access to art-making to boost wellbeing and tackle social isolation in the community. Over 400 people have attended sessions on clay making, collage, weaving, stop-motion animation and more.

One of the Inverness Openarts regular participants said: “The sessions are one of the only forms of social contact I have. They allow me to get out of my house and focus on doing something enjoyable. The sessions and the people who lead it and take part are helping me to slowly get over my anxieties about going out and being around people.”

Inverness Creative Academy is based at the former Inverness Royal Academy building, which underwent a £6 million refurbishment over four years. Energy efficiency was a core element of the works, and the charity received funding from Social Investment Scotland (SIS) earlier this year for more sustainable heating and lighting upgrades.

The Creative Academy is part of the Wasps Trust’s network of 20 facilities across Scotland, making it the UK’s largest provider of affordable studio space for artists and people in the creative industries.

Audrey Carlin, chief executive officer at Wasps: “Delivering Inverness Creative Academy to the community has been an honour, and for all those invested in the development of this stunning new cultural resource, including SIS, a source of great pride. I would like to thank all the supporters for their time and generosity, without which we would not have been able to deliver this stunning facility for Inverness and the surrounding area.

“The success of Inverness Creative Academy in its first full year of operations as a complete facility, since its official opening in May last year, has exceeded our expectations, and it is a positive indicator that not only is the cultural hub needed in the Highlands, but that the community has taken this multipurpose centre to its collective heart.”

Chris Jamieson, head of investments at SIS, said: “It is great to see Inverness Creative Academy going from strength to strength in such as short space of time. The Wasps Trust plays an important role in supporting the arts and creative industries, but its work also has a big impact on local communities. 

“As well as being a hub for social inclusion, the Academy also has ambitions to become carbon neutral. Our latest funding will help them on their journey to reaching that goal, by ensuring that this historic building in the heart of Inverness is fit for the future.”

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