A vacant former primary school in Perth city centre will be transformed into a creative hub in a project spearheaded by Perth and Kinross Council.
The £3m+ regeneration project will see the derelict St John’s Primary School be transformed into Creative Exchange Perth, a home for artists, creative industries, business incubation and community education. The redesigned building will house vibrant, connected workspaces and art studios, meeting rooms, a gallery and a café over three floors. The former school playground will be brought back into productive use as a community garden.
Upon completion Creative Exchange Perth will provide space for 24 artists, 12 creative businesses and generate 20 FTE jobs during construction and operation. The venture is a partnership project led by Perth and Kinross Council in close partnership with WASPS (Scotland’s largest provider of creative studios space). Key stakeholders Perth College UHI, Elevator (Business Gateway current contract provider in Tayside), Perth Contemporary Arts Trust (PCAT), and Perth Visual Arts Forum (PVAF) are also guiding the project
The building is located on Stormont Street and has lain vacant since 2011. Built in 1928 it is a typical traditional red brick school with 2350 square metres of gross floor area to be repurposed.
The redevelopment will see former classrooms partitioned into studios which artists will be able to stamp with their own brand and identity.
A privately funded Innovation Lab will be housed in the facility, nurturing culture across the project and the wider region. The hub will support business incubation and acceleration for around 35 businesses in the creative industries, including more knowledge intensive areas such as digital technologies and computer software.
Jim Valentine, Depute Chief Executive of Perth & Kinross Council, said:
“Creative Exchange Perth is an ambitious project being taken on by Perth and Kinross Council and our private and public sector partners, which recognises the importance of the creative industries in growing the local economy.
Perth is currently the only city in Scotland that doesn’t have affordable studio and office space for its creative people. This has contributed to a brain drain in creativity in Perth and Kinross. Working with our partners, the Creative Exchange facility will provide an incubator to nurture talent, and retain these key skills in the area. The corralling of talent into a dedicated work space will facilitate a new approach of creative networking and collaboration.
The new facility will also promote digital and creative skills, create jobs in the creative and knowledge-based sectors and use the power of culture to forge stronger, more resilient communities.”
Perth and Kinross Council will invest £2.7m in the project, with the Scottish Government investing an indicative £335,000 from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund. Elsewhere, £250,000 has been awarded by the European Regional Development Fund, £100,000 from the Community Investment Fund and £150,000 has been awarded to partner organisation WASPS for the project.
The initiative is the latest step towards the cultural regeneration of Perth, which strengthens Perth’s case and bid to become the next UK City of Culture in 2021.