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PICTURES: Roaring start for Rokzkool Academy as they open new studio in Eastgate Shopping Centre

By Federica Stefani

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A grassroots charity based in Inverness has taken a step forward this weekend by opening a brand new studio at Eastgate Shopping Centre.

The latest project by Rokzkool Academy, Studio 58 – located in the unit previously occupied by women’s clothes shop Phase Eight – is conceived as a community-based learning centre, which will include volunteer-run music lessons for all ages and abilities, art and craft workshops and podcasting sessions and the chance for young people to gain employability skills.

With an open day running yesterday, the charity is ready to run more activities.

Rod Shannon, co-founder of the charity, said that they feel incredibly positively about this new venture.

He said: "It was an incredible day. The studio was jam-packed from the moment we opened, and we heard positive comments from staff at Loch 'n' Larder who said their sales also increased

"We are really happy to open this space – for us is a completely new setting, being in an environment with such a high footfall!

"Being a small, grassroot charity means that it is harder for us to cover the costs of such a venue, but we raised £700 for running costs on the day, which is great."

He said that the new space will help the charity reach a broader audience.

"Among what we do is trying to support young people who are not engaging in traditional education, but we expect that being at Eastgate we will be able to help people from a wider rage of backgrounds.

"We are really looking forward to welcoming the community. A big thank you to everyone that came along and to our wonderful team of volunteers, we couldn't do this without them."

A live set from Scooty and the Skyhooks band and a day of fun activities and open sessions marked the day.

Inverness MP Drew Hendry was among the crowd attending the event.

Posting on social media, he said: "Rokzkool Academy SCIO are certainly beating the drum for music, creativity and community in the Highlands.

"Their fantastic new premises are now open in the Eastgate Shopping Centre – where they aim to bring children together to read the full potential through art and music.

"Well worth popping in to find out more about their classes and other offerings."

To learn more about Studio 58 and Rokzkool Academy visit rokzkoolacademy.org.

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