Local MSP David Stewart, Labour has pressed on with his campaign over the loss of the music and event venue The Ironworks in Inverness.
The campaign has the backing of many performers including Donnie Munro (Runrig) . He commented:
“I can certainly see the attraction for having a decent-sized bespoke music venue in Inverness serving a considerable catchment area around the city itself, the Moray Firth area, Easter & Wester Ross, Fort William, Lochaber, Dornoch, Tain, Sutherland and Caithness and to Skye and Lochalsh in the west.
“That is a potentially large demographic, whose needs are currently not being met when it comes to major touring bands and artists.”
Last week David Stewart questioned Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, on what action she will take to protect the live music scene in Inverness in light of the closure-threat facing The Ironworks.
He also asked the Scottish Government to provide funding and support to help the venue find a suitable new home.
Speaking in chamber, David Stewart said:
“The Cabinet Secretary will be well aware the Ironworks is a phenomenal venue for the Highlands and beyond and there are significant social and economic reasons for its survival.
Will the Cabinet Secretary make specific representations to both Creative Scotland and HIE to provide help in terms of financial support, help and guidance? Over 2000 people have now signed my petition calling for the survival of The Ironworks.”
Fiona Hyslop said Mr Stewart was “absolutely right – this is not just about a business concern, this is about the cultural provision of live music in Inverness and the Highlands”.
She went on to say that she had held discussions with HIE and Highland Council and added:
“The opportunity of different venues or different ways to make sure that that live music provision can be established is something that we are very keen to support so I have asked officials at HIE and our Scottish Government officials – and I will also liaise with Creative Scotland – to ensure that we work with the owner of that individual business but also look more widely at how we can maintain that live music provision in Inverness.
“There is an issue with that site, as you know, but that does not mean that we cannot work together to come up with some kind of creative solution that ensures that concerts of the popularity of those we have seen in The Ironworks in recent years can continue.”
Mr Stewart’s questions came after it emerged the owner of The Ironworks music business is having to find a new home. There are plans to revamp the site to build a hotel.
Afterwards, he said:
“People come from all over the Highlands to see gigs at the Ironworks, its massively important and it says so much about the character of Inverness as a city and indeed the Highlands as a whole. It’s also safe to say it’s a tourist magnet helping UHI boost and retain its retention rates.
“A decent-sized live music venue that lures the bigger bands all the way up to Inverness is what students look for when their making their university choices.
“The very real prospect of it soon being homeless has sent a real wave of sadness, and indeed frustration and anger, through my Highland and Islands constituency and seldom does one issue ripple so far but it’s like someone said on my petition, live music matters, it enriches, and it saves lives.
“People need creative outlets more now probably than they ever did, we’re all up against a rising swell of stress and work and economic doom and gloom, and the Ironworks is for some many people, a lifeline.
“We can’t just sit back and let it disappear because like the owner Caroline Campbell told me, once it’s gone its gone, it takes years to rebuild the contacts books. I think what’s needed it joined up thinking – and with the Culture Secretary’s support I am working hard to get this.”
David Stewart’s online petition has attracted more than 2000 signatures so far. Hundreds of supporters left comments beneath the petition.
Click on this link to access the petition: Find a new home for The Ironworks live music business in Inverness