Perth primary to be reinvented as artistic hub

Details of a cornerstone project for Perth’s cultural aspirations have been put up for public scrutiny.

The design of the £3.5 million arts hub which is to be created in a vacant city centre primary school were put on display at an event in Bells sport centre.

Also on hand were council officers and representatives of Workshop and Artists Studio Provision Scotland (WASPS) who will be managing the “creative exchange”.

The £3.5 million regeneration project will see the derelict St John’s Primary School transformed into a home for artists, creative industries, business incubation and community education.

The redesigned building will house workspaces and art studios, meeting rooms, a gallery and a café over three floors.

The former school playground will be brought back into productive use as a community garden.

Once completed Creative Exchange Perth will provide space for 24 artists, 12 creative businesses and generate 20 jobs during construction and operation.

Audrey Carlin of WASPS said the Perth venture would provide the space for home-grown talent to operate and grow businesses, ensuring locally-trained people could stay in the city and contribute to the local economy.

The income generated by the commercial ventures would help to subsidise the artistic endeavours.

“The business model is to become self sufficient by year five,” she said.

Jim Valentine, depute chief executive of Perth and Kinross Council which is investing £2.7m in the venture, said: “Creative Exchange Perth is an ambitious project being taken on by Perth and Kinross Council and our private and public sector partners, which recognises the importance of the creative industries in growing the local economy.

“Perth is currently the only city in Scotland that doesn’t have affordable studio and office space for its creative people. This has contributed to a brain drain in creativity in Perth and Kinross.”

WASPS already operate 18 similar projects across Scotland including one in Dundee and are celebrating their 40th anniversary.

The building on Stormont Street has lain vacant since 2011. Built in 1928 it is a typical traditional red brick school with 2,350 square metres of gross floor area.

Work on the project will start in earnest early next year and should be completed by the end of the year.

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