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Princess Anne officially declares Inverness Creative Studio open

Her Royal Highness Princess Anne declared the Inverness Creative Academy open. Picture by Sandy McCook
Her Royal Highness Princess Anne declared the Inverness Creative Academy open. Picture by Sandy McCook

A multi-million pound overhaul of a historic Inverness building was granted the royal seal of approval this afternoon as Anne, Princess Royal, declared the facility officially open.

Inverness Creative Academy, the Highlands’ first creative arts hub, has been the subject of a £6 million four-year conversion project.

The visit of the Princess Royal today marked the official opening of the former Inverness Royal Academy building.

The academy is already home to artists and businesses following extensive work.

Academy to provide accessibility for disadvantaged

During her visit, the Princess Royal engaged with those who have taken up residency at the creative academy, as well as others involved in the project.

The Princess Royal was given a tour of the academy

The academy has provided working accommodation for visual and applied artists. Office space for the creative industries, social enterprises and charities has also been created.

Phase one opened in 2018, welcoming 44 artists into 32 affordable studio spaces.

Phase two opened earlier this year, providing exhibition, performance and events space, alongside a public cafe, workshop area and offices.

During her visit, The Princess Royal also met with participants on Wasp’s OpenArts initiative.

The programme has been designed to support wellbeing, promote social inclusion and to increase accessibility for disadvantaged groups.

‘A valuable contribution to the Highlands’ cultural network’

Wasps chief executive Audrey Carlin said: “We have been honoured to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to Inverness Creative Academy and proud to showcase the new cultural addition to the city and region.

“I’m delighted that The Princess Royal accepted our offer. What Wasps does fits well with her interests and background, as a supporter of charities, creativity and her connections with Scotland.

“As The Princess Royal’s visit also marked the official opening of Inverness Creative Academy, it offered us the chance to thank our supporters and partners who have given their time, energy and enthusiasm to enable Wasps to achieve completion of this facility, and so make a valuable contribution to the Highlands’ cultural network.”

During her visit, the Princess Royal spoke with artists

The royal visit coincided with the launch of a new exhibition, titled Home and Away.

During her visit, the Princess Royal congratulated all involved, adding that “buildings of this heritage have so much offer”.

Ian Whyte, an artist at Wasps who is a former eye surgeon and rubbed shoulders with the Princess in his previous role, welcomed her visit.

Mr Whyte said: “I think it just validates it all.

“It is great to mark today with somebody of her stature.”

A plaque was unveiled to mark the occasion.

Could renovation help revive the town centre?

The creative academy is an example of one high-class offering designed to entice people into the city centre.

There is optimism that efforts are being made to drive people back into town centres to live, work and play.

Phil Prentice, chief officer at Scotland’s Towns Partnership, has said this has been driven by the post Covid and climate emergency agendas.

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