A View from the Pavilion

Rothesay Pavilion has been closed since late 2015, and the next stage of work will begin in November this year.
Rothesay Pavilion has been closed since late 2015, and the next stage of work will begin in November this year.

In this guest column, the artistic director and chief executive of the Rothesay Pavilion Charity Julia Twomlow details how the Pavilion refurbishment project has gone so far and what the next stage is.

There isn’t much in Rothesay that you can’t glean from a visit to the Co-op. One of my main topics of conversation lately, while rifling through the ‘orange labels’ section, has been the state of play at the Pavilion. From the outside at least, all appears to have been quiet on that front for some time.

There was a flurry of visible progress last year with asbestos clearance, emptying the building of its contents, and then a period of ‘enabling works’ when structural surveys were completed and extensive concrete repairs carried out. Since then there has been only the occasional sign of activity.

A couple of months ago the phone box disappeared and every few weeks there has been a ‘hard hat’ tour of the building for interested folks to take a look inside and hear about the plans, but otherwise quiet.

The truth is that like all complex, large-scale capital projects, the initial stages of the Rothesay Pavilion restoration are really not very exciting and most of it happens behind closed doors, in huddles, wrestling with table-cloth sized drawings, multi-page spreadsheets, calculators, sharp pencils and lots of coffee.

For twelve months, we (by which I mean Argyll and Bute Council, Rothesay Pavilion Charity, the architect and design team) have been occupied with the tortuous job of tendering the main contract – preparing specifications, issuing documents, evaluating, reissuing and re-evaluating. We are still in this stage now (‘commercially sensitive’ stuff, so I won’t dwell on it here) but we aim to have concluded in the autumn, ready to start onsite again in November.

However, in the absence of fun and exciting things happening on the building front, the charity team (based in our temporary office in Bute Fabrics), have been cheering ourselves by dreaming about how the building will be used when we eventually get it back.

One of the plans for the building is the redevelopment of the rooftop with offices, a meeting room and importantly a new music and media studio, primarily but not exclusively for young people on the island. So, in preparation for this space, we have also been piloting workshops and taster sessions with young people, covering things like music and sound production, digital production and film making.

So far we have made a rather fab music video, available to see via our website, and held a ‘powder-bombing’ session on the empty main Pavilion stage with young people from Rothesay, Dunoon and Cove. During the summer the activities will continue with trips to Erskine Music and Media Studio, Paisley Rock and Pop School, STV studios and a presence at Butefest filming the festival weekend.

If you are aged 14 to 25 and would like to get involved, please email contact@rothesaypavilion.co.uk or visit our ‘45RPM’ Facebook page www.facebook.com/45RPMProject for more details. Watch our website too for details of more ‘hard hat’ tour dates www.rothesaypavilion.co.uk or call us on 01700 503734. Or if in doubt, stop me in the Co-op, I’ll be the one trying to concoct something delicious from venison meatballs, half a swede and a packet of crunchy salad.