Politicians from across the political spectrum have pledged support
for Edinburgh’s free arts and events space. Following last week’s
support from the Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop (1), MSPs are now adding
their verbal support for The Forest’s volunteer-run campaign to buy
the premises at 3 Bristo Place. The Culture Secretary praised The
Forest’s August programme and vowed during last week’s Question Time
to help arrange a meeting with her civil servants to help with the
fundraising efforts. Since then, Alison Johnstone, the Lothian
Region’s Green MSP, has lodged a Parliamentary Motion (2) calling on
Holyrood to support the fundraising efforts.
Alison Johnstone said:
The Forest has been a unique asset to Edinburgh for more than a
decade and it must have a secure future. Nowhere else in the
capital offers that extraordinary mix of spaces for art and gigs,
free events, good food and such a welcoming atmosphere. The
attitude of the current administrators of the premises on Bristo
Place has been incomprehensible, but I remain confident that the
dedicated Forest volunteers will be able either to get their old
venue back or find somewhere even better. This city has been
immeasurably better off for their efforts over the years, and that’s
why I’m wholeheartedly supporting this campaign.
Marco Biagi, the SNP’s Edinburgh Central MSP, echoed these sentiments:
The Forest isn’t just a really original, creative and free-thinking
space, it’s also one of the few places in Edinburgh I can buy and
munch on vegan cakes. Its contribution to the city is one-of-a-kind
and I hope to see it continue.
Mr Biagi is helping The Forest to arrange a meeting at the Scottish
Parliament to explain the current situation to all Lothian MSPs and
Scottish Government representatives. The Forest is also exploring
whether the briefing session can also include Edinburgh councillors
and staff from Creative Scotland.
Ryan van Winkle, a long-term Forest volunteer, said:
We really appreciate these comments and feel honoured to have come
up at parliament. We hope that they help us get what we need, which
is time and money. The building is for sale and we have a very
short amount of time to mount a credible bid.
Obviously these MSPs understand that The Forest is important to
Scotland. We are a world-renowned venue and a beacon of
social-enterprise, as well as an essential part of the Scottish and
UK artistic ecosystem. As Daniel Kitson, Neil Gaiman and countless
others have explained, art and culture don’t just appear. Your
favourite bands, TV shows, plays and artists all needed a vibrant
and exciting place to hone their craft in relative safety. The
Forest has provided that for a generation; a generation of extreme
growth in Scotland’s cultural sector. I think our politicians are
rightly concerned about what the loss of The Forest will do to
Edinburgh and Scotland’s artistic sector.
The Forest recently launched a renewed campaign to buy its current
home in Bristo Place. People can pledge their financial support
online for The Forest via WeFund
Forest’s campaign is the largest project WeFund has supported to date.
So far it has received over £13,000 in pledges. Combined with money
already raised — over £32,000 — the Forest is nearly halfway towards
its goal of £100,000 to secure a mortgage to buy 3 Bristo Place.
Alison Johnstone raised the Forest’s current situation during
Culture and External Affairs Question Time on Thursday, 8 September.
Alison Johnstone: Is the Minister aware of the current threat to
the much-loved and well-used arts venue, the Forest, in Edinburgh
city centre? Would she be prepared to meet representatives of the
Forest as they work to secure a long- term home?
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop: The Forest Fringe hosted another
eclectic programme during the August period and I understand that
the venue is in the process of fundraising. I would be happy to
let the Member know who it might be most appropriate for Forest
representatives to meet at this stage of their fundraising
efforts and if it is appropriate for me to meet them that would
also be a step forward.
Marco Biagi has also raised the issue with me, but it might be
helpful to find out who it would be most appropriate to meet,
particularly at this early stage, which I think involves a
Alison Johnstone’s Parliamentary Motion (S4M-00826), was lodged on
Friday, 9 September. To date, MSPs from three parties have
A Future for The Forest—-That the Parliament regrets the recent
closure of The Forest, Edinburgh’s much-loved, open-access,
multi-arts and events space; commends the volunteers who have run
The Forest for the past 11 years and supports their recent WeFund
campaign to raise the deposit needed …to buy the building that
was The Forest’s home until this summer; understands that the
pledge drive to raise £100,000 by 1 October 2011 is one of the
biggest arts funding pledge drives ever run in the UK; welcomes
the cabinet secretary’s offer to ensure that representatives of
The Forest are given the opportunity to meet her and officials to
discuss the organisation’s future, and believes that support from
the Scottish Government, alongside the efforts of hardworking
volunteers, can help protect the future of what is considered
this flagship venue and social enterprise.
The Forest is one of Edinburgh’s last remaining open-access
multi-arts venues and is a multi-award-winning Fringe venue (The
Forest Fringe). The volunteer-run charity operated an art gallery,
theatre, performance and rehearsal spaces, a darkroom, a publishing
house, a swap shop, a record label, a hairdresser and a thriving
vegetarian café in their Bristo Place home. A detailed press pack
about the Forest’s work is available online at
The Forest will continue to run exciting events over the next few
months—-not just fundraisers for the campaign, but also the free,
innovative arts events that it is famous for. These include a
night of local music acts at Media on 16 September, a silent art
auction at Out of the Blue on 23 September, a Psychegaelic Ceilidh
at Studio 24 on 30 September and the relaunch of the Inky Fingers
series of free literary events in October.
For the latest updates from the Forest, or to get involved, visit
the organisation’s web site at http://www.theforest.org.uk/ or
Please note correspondence address for The Forest has moved temporarily:
c/o 3F3, 3 Montgomery Street
Fundraising Officer/Media Contact