April update from Rothesay Pavilion

Nick Merriman chairs the Rothesay Pavilion Charity.
Nick Merriman chairs the Rothesay Pavilion Charity.

Nick Merriman, chair of the Rothesay Pavilion Charity, gives readers of The Buteman his latest monthly update on the regeneration project at the famous building.

Each time I write this monthly column, I am amazed at how much progress is made on the Pavilion project.

Although the building currently looks the same, behind the scenes a huge amount is going on.

Since my last column, the Pavilion board has met twice. The first one was a special meeting to discuss the latest design for the spaces with the architect, Tom Conolly of Elder & Cannon.

This included the decision to provide a dedicated space for the history of the building on the ground floor, and detailed specifications for the exhibition space and for the second venue beneath the main stage, which will be aimed at younger people.

Quite a lot of time was spent discussing toilets, office space, and storage (for all those chairs and tables, as well as exhibition equipment and all the things you need to run a venue).

The second was a regular board meeting, where we heard the excellent news that the charity has been awarded £100,000 towards the project from the Robertson Trust, a major Scottish charity. We are making real progress towards raising all of the funds needed now.

The board also heard a report from the sub-group working on the programming for the closing weekend at the end of September.

Since the meeting we heard that we’d been awarded a small grant by the council towards this, and we will hear from Creative Scotland about a larger bid in early May. We’ll send out more details of the programme as soon as we are able to.

We also had a report-back from the group of three board members who made a research trip to our sister institution, the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Sea in Sussex. This is a Grade 1 listed building in International Modernist style which was an inspiration for the Rothesay building.

Its recent history parallels ours: it became rather neglected, and was eventually taken on by an independent trust after a major refurbishment. It now has a large number of visitors, a thriving programme and an international profile.

Board members spent the whole day there, meeting staff and council officials, and gained a huge amount of insight into the process they had undergone.

The next day they visited Turner Contemporary in Margate, which has kick-started the regeneration of the town. Similar insights were gained from its director and staff. A full report has been produced, which will be invaluable as we move forward.

This month we also had a walk-round the Pavilion with James McMillan and his manager Marius Huysamer to discuss the removal of furniture and equipment prior to closure.

Whilst some of it will be passed on to other council venues, we identified a range of items that will be of use in the building when it re-opens which would otherwise have been disposed of.

What the charity desperately needs now is some space to store these items for nearly two years. If you can help, please contact our development manager, Stuart Thomas, on stuart@rothesay pavilion.co.uk

Finally, April is a key month for the project. I attended a meeting of senior council officers in Lochgilphead to discuss the details of the charity’s lease and ongoing agreement, and the state of fundraising, while the council considered adoption of the full business case for the project on Thursday, April 23.

Then on April 29 I am meeting with Heritage Lottery Fund, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and other key funders in Edinburgh to formally kick off the project.

The post of full-time project manager is beingadvertised, and we hope shortly to begin the process of seeking a full-time director for the Pavilion and an engagement officer to work with local schools and community members.