An ambitious project to develop a major creative industries base in the north has won £500,000 funding from Historic Environment Scotland.
And over £100,000 more has been given to Dunollie Castle in Oban for its own regeneration project.
In Inverness, the Wasps Trust is creating a £5million Creative Academy at the 125-year-old Midmills building, the site of the former Inverness Royal Academy.
Wasps chief executive Audrey Carlin welcomed the additional funding, saying: “We are delighted to receive £500,000 from Historic Environment Scotland towards Phase Two of our flagship facility in the Highlands.
“The funds will contribute towards the regeneration of the B-Listed former Inverness Academy School building built in 1895, bringing it back into use as a creative industries’ hub.
“The funds will deliver sensitive restoration and refurbishment works, transforming the grand assembly hall into an events, exhibition and cafe space, in the heart of the Highlands.
“Works will be completed early 2021 delivering a facility which will be critical in creating a pathway to sustainable creative careers in the Highlands, enabling the region to tap into the huge economic and cultural benefits of the growing arts and culture industry in the UK.”
The building had housed Inverness Royal Academy from 1895 to 1979, before becoming a campus for Inverness College UHI. It became vacant when the college moved to its new base at Beechwood.
The Wasps Trust, a non-profit social enterprise based in Glasgow, acquired the Category B-listed Victorian building in 2018.
Phase one of the project – the ‘artists and makers’ wing – was completed in November that year, providing 32 artist’s studios, a community run traditional darkroom, a designated workshop space for classes, and an events/exhibition space in the old gym.
Phase two will provide the ‘creative industries’ wing.
Historic Environment Scotland yesterday announced more £800,000 funding to heritage projects across the country.
Among the other recipients is the 15th century Dunollie Castle in Oban which has been awarded £141,605 for works to the exterior and main tower.
This project forms part of a wider regeneration programme for the castle which includes the museum and grounds.
Amy Eastwood, head of grants at HES, said: “From offering public access to creating co-working spaces, these projects are fantastic examples of how conservation and re-use of historic buildings can make a positive contribution to the wider community.
“These funds will allow the projects to undertake the necessary high-quality, specialised conservation works required to help ensure a sustainable end use and continue Scotland’s story.”