Another performing arts group has raised concerns that the arrival of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) to the north-east will squeeze out local groups from facilities.
Earlier this year Fraserburgh Junior Performing Arts Society criticised a deal struck between Aberdeenshire Council and the world-renowned music and drama academy to open their doors to kids in the poorest areas of the north-east.
The society said it was unfair the internationally established conservatoire – now ranked as the third-best performing arts school in the world – was going to get access to facilities for free while prices for local and volunteer groups are rising.
Now the owner of the 6.1.0 Dance Academy Stephen Summers, a regular user of Fraserburgh’s Dalrymple Hall where some of the conservatoire teaching may take place, has said no local groups should lose out.
“Each week I teach dance to over 250 youngsters over four days in the hall,” Mr Summers said. “The Dalrymple Hall is the heart of Fraserburgh’s arts scene and it is in constant use by local groups, it certainly doesn’t like unused for most of the year.”
Mr Summers said the arrival of the RCS will “only add to our arts culture” but that it must not come at the expense of limited access to practice rooms.
He added: “Of real concern to users of council buildings in Fraserburgh, including the Dalrymple Hall, is the rising cost of room hire. Small business owners like myself are being priced out of using council facilities and are looking to rent privately.”
Last year the local authority changed its “cost recovery” policy and agreed to try and recoup more money spent maintaining public buildings and services.
John Harding, the authority’s head of lifelong learning and leisure, has said the partnership between the council and the RCS is a “real coup” for Fraserburgh and the whole area.
When the deal was announced he said: “It will offer development programmes for people of all ages to work with one of the best performing arts education establishments in the world.”
The final details of the conservatoire programmes have not yet been announced, but the council has offered assurances it will “complement” existing groups, not edge them out.