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Culture minister involved in talks as campaign grows to find new home for Inverness music venue

By Val Sweeney

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MSP David Stewart and Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop.
MSP David Stewart and Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

FURTHER talks will take place next week amid continued efforts to find a new home for a popular music venue in Inverness.

It follows a meeting between Scotland's Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart who is campaigning to secure the future of the Ironworks which could be demolished to make way for a proposed new 162-bedroom hotel in Academy Street.

A working group led by Mr Stewart and including senior members of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), High Life Highland, Highland Council and Creative Scotland is due to meet for a second time next week.

Mr Stewart said he asked for last night's meeting with Ms Hyslop because the Ironworks desperately needed her government's support to secure its future.

"I was delighted to pick up from our meeting this week a very positive sense that she is doing everything she can to open doors to opportunities," said Mr Stewart whose online petition has been signed by almost 3000 people.

"She knows grass roots music venues are disappearing at an alarming rate and that the loss of the Ironworks would speak volumes about the SNP's success at making sure areas like Inverness and the wider Highlands and Islands retain their creativity and culture vibrancy and continue boosting their night-time economies.

“There are still some practical things that we still need to get in place to help the Ironworks secure a new home but I’m delighted with the fantastic support from all the agencies and I’ll be drawing everyone together at the end of next week for our second round of formal discussions. We all have the same objective in mind.

“The Ironworks is important because it is committed to championing the new, local talent that relies on its 1000-capacity performance space to hone their skills and I’m told its demise could even affect the area’s booming summer festival circuit because it is the Ironworks that is anchoring bands all-year-round and keeping that valuable network strong and contacts flowing.

“We all need to show our support to keep this vital venue going."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Live music is an integral part of Scottish cultural life – and its huge economic and cultural value to Scotland has been clearly demonstrated.

"The Ironworks venue is an important part of the live music scene in Inverness and the Highlands. We are keen to support the Ironworks in any way we can to find alternative premises.”

Mr Stewart is urging people to sign his petition at www.change.org/p/cabinet-secretary-for-culture-tourism-and-external-affairs-fiona-hyslop-find-a-new-home-for-the-ironworks-live-music-venue-in-inverness.

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