View from Rothesay Pavilion: Project sign-off sees scheme gather pace

Nick Merriman is the chair of the Rothesay Pavilion Charity.

Nick Merriman is the chair of the Rothesay Pavilion Charity.

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The redevelopment of Rothesay Pavilion is now moving forward at a rapid pace after Argyll and Bute Council signed off the full business case for the project.

Shortly after the council’s decision, I attended a meeting at the Heritage Lottery Fund’s offices in Edinburgh to officially start the project from their point of view, as the major single funder. This means that the project is finally proceeding!

We are delighted that Peter McDonald, who has been assisting council colleagues and consultant Jane Robertson alongside other duties, has been appointed as full time project manager. He will be the key point of contact between the design team, and the charity as the end users of the building. The council is beginning the process of procuring a contractor for the works, and the charity is busy both preparing for the closure of the building, and working towards establishing the new organisation that will take it over after refurbishment.

We have identified all of the existing furniture and equipment that can usefully be used in the new building, and we are looking for some dry and secure storage for it for about two years. If you can help, or have some ideas, please contact our development manager Stuart Thomas on stuart@rothesaypavilion.co.uk.

Stuart has been working with our programming sub-group to develop our closing weekend of activities which will take place on September 25-27, and a programme of ‘pop-up’ activities at different venues on the island while the Pavilion is closed.

The programming for the first year of the re-opened Pavilion, and beyond, will be the responsibility of the chief executive and artistic director, a post which has been nationally advertised with a closing date of July 2.

This person will be crucial for the success of the Pavilion as a whole: they will not only have to create a year-round programme of performances and activities that engages local people and tourists, they will also be responsible for leading the staff, managing the building, and fulfilling its business plan. This will mean maximizing income from a wide variety of sources and raising funds to support the programme.

We hope the opportunity of taking the Pavilion to a new level, and playing a major role in developing the fortunes of the island, will attract a significant field of candidates, and all being well we will have someone in post in the early autumn.

In the meantime, work continues on the design of the building, and we are contributing to the fine detail of what goes into each room, from the window blinds to the plugs and data points. We are continuing to put bids into trusts and foundations to raise the remaining 5% of the funding, and working closely with the council on matters such as the lease.

We’ll hold an open meeting over the closing weekend, where the latest version of the designs will be presented, and where people can hear more about plans for the location of activities during the closure, and the current thinking on the programme of the new building. The charity’s first AGM will also be held at the same time.

* Nick Merriman chairs the Rothesay Pavilion Charity, which will take over the running of Rothesay Pavilion once the refurbishment work is complete.