Rothesay Pavilion’s future in focus at open evening

Rothesay Pavilion celebrates its 75th birthday this year.
Rothesay Pavilion celebrates its 75th birthday this year.

Ideas for the future development of Rothesay Pavilion are to go on show at an open evening at the iconic seafront building later this month.

Argyll and Bute Council’s Pavilion team, along with members of the building’s recently-formed Creative Community Steering Group, is hosting the drop-in event at the Pavilion cafe from 5.30pm to 9pm on Wednesday, March 20.

There will be a range of themed tables set out for sharing ideas on the current proposals for the Pavilion and on the next stages of the project, as well as for discussion on a number of related themes.

Argyll and Bute Council is aiming to revitalise the Pavilion to provide a community social enterprise and a significant cultural venue that will appeal to both the local community and visitors to Bute.

Together with the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) project, the Pavilion’s restoration forms the second of the council’s CHORD projects for Rothesay, part of a wider regeneration programme for Argyll and Bute’s five major towns - Campbeltown, Helensburgh, Oban, Rothesay and Dunoon.

The building is 75 years old this year, but has been showing its age and the effects of being under-resourced for some time.

Following appraisal of a number of options for the building, and community consultation held in 2010 by council project management consultants the Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT), a design scheme and business plan have been developed.

The Heritage Lottery Fund recently awarded development funding to Argyll and Bute Council which will allow PRT to develop the proposed scheme in detail.

A news release issued on Tuesday stated: “There is a great deal to do over the coming months, not least to put in place a social enterprise, and to secure match funding for the essential repairs and refurbishment, before work can start on site in 2015.”

The new steering group has been set up to feed in expert cultural advice and to represent the interests of existing Pavilion user groups.

Lead councillor for Bute and Cowal, Robert Macintyre, said: “It is important the people of Rothesay and Bute get involved in this iconic building’s future.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to come along to the open evening and have their say. I am looking forward to seeing the Pavilion once it has been fully upgraded as it has a vital role to play in the island’s future.”

The Pavilion team is working with HI~Arts to bring their cultural ‘Hit Team’ to Bute on March 20 and 21.

The ‘Hit Team’ has worked successfully in numerous mainland and island communities including Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, Islay, Helmsdale in Sutherland, Oban and Dunoon.

The Hit Team will be at the open evening to provide creative and cultural advice, and to help to build a network for continued exchange of creative ideas, placing the refurbished Pavilion as the heart of Bute’s cultural and community life.

The HI~Arts team will also be available for bookable one-to-one surgeries of 30 minutes each during the visit, for anyone with a professional interest in visual arts and crafts, writing and publishing, music, planning and running events, marketing and developing audiences, or the national arts and heritage context in general.

Anyone wishing to book a one-to-one surgery can do so via the HI~Arts web site (click on the link to the right of this article), while HI~Arts hopes to return later in the year to deliver a crafts and visual arts networking event.

The Pavilion is owned and operated by Argyll and Bute Council. Built in 1938 and designed to be a public building to host dances, functions and conferences, as well as to provide sports facilities for both the summer and winter populations.

Tuesday’s media release continued: “The regeneration project will create a striking 21st-century attraction which will celebrate Bute’s rich heritage as a vibrant Scottish seaside resort, which in its hey-day during the 1950-60s attracted thousands of visitors.

“To this day, the Category A listed Pavilion remains as an immediately recognisable structure that stands as a symbol of Rothesay and which, for the last seven decades, has been at the heart of Bute island life and a source of great community pride; it currently continues to be used by some 40 local community groups, together with a range of other events and performances including hosting jazz festivals, visiting artistes and weddings.

“The Pavilion project will create a nationally significant cultural centre and visitor attraction in the heart of Rothesay that will transform the seafront and have a major economic impact on the area.”