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Big push to raise £230,000 to buy Inverness East Church to create Gaelic culture centre

By Neil MacPhail

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East Church on Academy Street, Inverness.
East Church on Academy Street, Inverness.

An Inverness based group has launched another online appeal in a bid to buy the city's East Church for conversion to a Gaelic culture centre.

The new campaign aims to raise £50,000 via Crowdfunding - £30,000 for the shortfall on what they have already raised for the purchase of the church in the city's Academy Street, plus £20,000 for initial running costs.

East Church went on the market for offers over £230,000 earlier this year, a victim of the Church of Scotland's national drive to cut costs.

At present the online appeal to make up the shortfall stands at £15,000 with six days left. Click here for the crowdfunding page.

A spokesperson for Cultarlann Inbhir Nis said: "We think this is the ideal place for Cultarlann Inbhir Nis. It feels like our home: ar dachaigh. "We are in deep discussions with some public bodies and have received a generous contribution from the Highland Council's Common Good Fund, but we still have a funding gap to reach the asking price."

In May 2022, a campaign began in earnest to create a modern, vibrant Gaelic Cultural Centre in Inverness. It would seek to raise initial funds for the purchase of a building in the city centre.

Despite not having a specific building in mind, the initial Crowdfunder and other donations raised almost £30,000. A spokesperson added: "The generosity of donors showed us the strength of support out there to make this project happen. This money was ring-fenced in the fund for the purchase of a building. Many many thanks to all those who contributed, thereby getting us started on our journey."

Moving forward the project received support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise in the form of an Options Appraisal which researched a range of buildings in the town and the recommendation is that the East Church best suits the vision for a Gaelic centre.

With this year's Royal National Mod taking place in Paisley from 13th-21st October, Cultarlann Inbhir Nis might receive a welcome funding boost.

The spokesperson explained: "Assistance from the Architectural Heritage Fund allowed us to contract an architect to carry out a viability study on the East Church.

"Together with ongoing backing from Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Enterprise Scotland we now have a clear and exciting vision of what can be realised in this beautiful building, a church with a long association with Gaelic since its foundation in 1798."

The new campaign aims to raise an additional £30,000 to fully fund the group's contribution to the purchase plus £20,000 to help with initial running costs.

They are in deep discussions with some public bodies and have received a generous contribution from the Highland Council's Common Good Fund, but, still have a funding gap to reach the asking price.

They are appealing to all Gaelic supporters for help to create a community-owned gathering place for everyone with an interest in Gaelic language and culture.

Cultarlann Inbhir Nis will aim to provide:

  • A welcoming café with Gaelic speaking staff
  • A retail area selling Gaelic books, cards, T-shirts and other Gaelic related merchandise.
  • An exhibition promoting of the history of the language
  • Meeting rooms for learning and cultural activities and
  • A venue for ceilidhs, concerts, book launches, family celebrations, story-telling and other public events.

The appeal ends: "We are almost there. Beag air bheag, gheibh sinn ann. We just need the remaining £50,000.

"Are you a Gaelic speaker, learner, supporter or part of the diaspora? Rally to our cry! Contribute as much or as little as you can afford.

"If every person who has Gaelic in their family or in their hearts, donated then this ground-breaking Gaelic Cultural Centre becomes a reality."

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