Live music venue in the Highlands & Islands has moved a step closer to moving into new premises after crunch talks with key players

THE LEADING live music venue in the Highlands & Islands has moved a step closer to moving into new premises after crunch talks with key players.

The Ironwork’s director Caroline Campbell said the mood music that came out of the meeting led by the region’s Labour MSP David Stewart was “fantastically positive”.

Proposals for a hotel to be built on the site could leave The Ironworks with little time to relocate.

However, Caroline Campbell said the commitment shown to support the music business has spurred her on to investigate a potential venue for a move she believes could be seamless for her network of musicians and bookings, and her 62 staff.

She said: “David Stewart MSP and senior members of HIE, High Life Highland, Highland Council and Creative Scotland, discussed finding a new home for our key live music business that plays a vital role in the cultural life of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and I felt it was a fantastically positive meeting. David Stewart’s online petition was also discussed, and everyone took on board how important the venue is to the people of Inverness and to music-lovers across the wider Highlands and Islands and beyond.”

She added: “I can’t stress this enough when I say this building we are in right now is just a shell. Everything in it we own and is transferrable. I invested heavily in new equipment and that was done deliberately so it could be moveable. It’s business as usual for The Ironworks and details will be released as soon as we know where our new space will be.”

The meeting was arranged by the Labour MSP David Stewart on the back of his campaign to find a new home for the venue.

Highland Council’s executive chief officer Stuart Black told the meeting the local authority was “very keen to see The Ironworks remain in the city centre”.

James Martin, head of development at High Life Highland, agreed to supply Mrs Campbell with costs and crowd-capacity figures for his charity’s network of buildings. Two senior officials from Highlands and Islands Enterprise – Iain Hamilton and Stephanie Andrew – also gave a commitment to investigate the kinds of support the organisation could give to the venue.

Creative Scotland, the public body that distributes funding from the Scottish Government and the UK National Lottery to supports the arts, screen and creative industries, is also engaged in the relocation effort.

MSP David Stewart, who has secured a meeting with Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop on October 29, said he was “convinced there will be a permanent alternative home for The Ironworks”.
He said: “This venue is vital to the region’s music scene and to its cultural values not to mention the boost it brings to the city’s night-time economy and in turn to Scotland’s culture secretary Fiona Hyslop’s commitment to increase music tourism.

“People who come from as far as Dundee to see bands play at The Ironworks have signed my online petition. It’s been an institution in Inverness for more than a decade, contributing in so many ways without the backing of any regular public funding and I think it is time the Scottish Government started to recognise the good work it is doing. But for me, one of the most positive things that came out of the meeting, is we know there are levers we might be able to pull on to secure it a new home.”

A follow-up meeting has been scheduled for Friday, November 8.