Cam­paign launched to raise funds for new Gàidhlig cen­tre

The Oban Times - - LEISURE -

Ceòlas has launched a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign to raise £250,000 to­wards build­ing a new £7m ‘cen­tre for ex­cel­lence’ for Gàidhlig cul­ture on South Uist.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment granted Ceòlas £1mil­lion in De­cem­ber to help build the cen­tre for Gàidhlig mu­sic, dance, lan­guage and cul­tural her­itage at Cnoc Soilleir in Dal­iburgh – but its staff and vol­un­teers now need to raise £250,000 from the pub­lic to demon­strate com­mu­nity sup­port.

Ceòlas, a 21-year- old arts and ed­u­ca­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion, is de­scribed as ‘rooted within the Gàidhlig heart­land of South Uist’, and a dis­til­la­tion of the is­land’s cul­ture and her­itage. Uist is recog­nised as the most vi­brant Gaidhlig com­mu­nity in Scot­land,’ its crowd­fun­der page ex­plains, ‘a place where lan­guage, mu­sic and dance are es­sen­tial com­po­nents of our cul­tural her­itage.’

Since its es­tab­lish­ment in 1996, Ceòlas has grown from a week-long mu­sic and dance school to be­come one of Scot­land’s lead­ing Gaelic cul­tural or­gan­i­sa­tions. Ceòlas cur­rently hosts mu­sic schools in sum­mer and win­ter – most re­cently a Fèis Chul­laig at Hog­manay fea­tur­ing fid­dle, bag­pipe and singing classes and con­certs in Grog­a­rry Lodge, and fire­side ceilidhs stretch­ing from Eriskay’s Am Politi­cian Bar to the Dark Is­land Ho­tel in Ben­bec­ula. But Ceòlas now hopes to host a lot more, part­nered with Lews Cas­tle Col­lege UHI in Stornoway.

‘For many years our com­mu­nity has looked for­ward to see­ing a cen­tre for Gaelic mu­sic, dance and cul­ture here in Uist,’ Ceòlas’s web­site reads. ‘ We are ex­cited to be at the thresh­old of achiev­ing this am­bi­tious project for Uist, and need your help now to make this hap­pen by do­nat­ing to the cap­i­tal fund.

‘Through sup­port­ing this project you will be help­ing to make Uist an at­trac­tive place for peo­ple to live and visit, giv­ing fam­i­lies more rea­son to stay in the is­lands and hope­fully stem the flow of young peo­ple leav­ing the is­land. This build­ing will be a game changer, not only for Ceòlas and Lews Cas­tle Col­lege UHI but for the whole is­land com­mu­nity.’

Pledg­ing £1mil­lion to the Cnoc Soil­lier project, Deputy First Min­is­ter John Swin­ney said: ‘The es­tab­lish­ment of a multi-func­tion­ing Gaidhlig ed­u­ca­tion and arts cen­tre in Uist will cre­ate over 40 full-time equiv­a­lent jobs in the com­ing years and gen­er­ate sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits for the lo­cal econ­omy. It will also se­cure a sus­tain­able fu­ture for Gaelic in the area.’

Cnoc Soilleir, mean­ing ‘Hill of Bright Light’, will sup­port the growth of Ceòlas’ Sum­mer School, win­ter fes­ti­val, song con­fer­ence and sym­po­sium, as well as Lews Cas­tle Col­lege’s LCC mu­sic pro­grammes, in­clud­ing a BA in ap­plied mu­sic, MA in mu­sic and the en­vi­ron­ment, an HNC mu­sic, and other cre­ative in­dus­try cour­ses.

Ceòlas projects that, by 2022, there will be ten new Ceòlas events de­liv­ered from Cnoc Soilleir, and that the win­ter fes­ti­val and sum­mer school will at­tract more than 2,000 vis­i­tors to the is­land. It also es­ti­mates the project will di­rectly and in­di­rectly cre­ate 41 new full-time equiv­a­lent jobs, and at­tract 91 new peo­ple liv­ing per­ma­nently in Uist.

Ar­chi­tect John Ren­shaw, who un­der­took a fea­si­bil­ity study in 2015, said: ‘ We are thrilled Ceòlas are at the point of de­vel­op­ing such an im­por­tant build­ing for the cel­e­bra­tion, per­for­mance and teach­ing of Gaidhlig mu­sic, dance and cul­tural her­itage.’

The new build­ing promises an ‘ex­em­plary mod­ern teach­ing and work­ing en­vi­ron­ment with ideal acous­tics and am­bi­ence for ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, per­form­ing and teach­ing tra­di­tional mu­sic, dance and Gàidhlig’, ‘char­ac­terised by plen­ti­ful nat­u­ral day­light’ and ‘an in­ti­mate con­nec­tion with the sur­round­ing land­scape’.

For more in­for­ma­tion, and to do­nate, you can visit www.ce­o­las.co.uk.

Above and be­low: Ar­chi­tects’ con­cept draw­ings of the pro­posed build­ing in Dal­iburgh © John Ren­shaw Ar­chi­tects 2016

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