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Arts can play key part in reviving town centres, says Green candidate for Highlands

By Gordon Calder

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Ariane Burgess, Scottish Greens' Highlands and Islands candidate.
Ariane Burgess, Scottish Greens' Highlands and Islands candidate.

THE arts can play a key role in regenerating town and village centres in the north, according to Greens candidate, Ariane Burgess.

She says art and culture can help breath new life into struggling high streets in the Highlands and Islands as the area emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Greens want to create Local Place Plans which would allow community-led planning to build stronger communities.

They include supporting the use of commercial properties as artist-led spaces such as studios, venues, cinemas, workshops and production facilities.

Ms Burgess, the Scottish Greens’ lead candidate for Highland Region said: "Even before the pandemic hit Scotland, many high streets and villages around the Highlands and Islands had far too many empty units as more and more shopping was done online.

"We need to rethink our town and village centres, so they become even more attractive places to be.

Local artists can play a huge role in a green recovery. As Covid restrictions ease and we get a chance to get together again there will be a huge appetite for rebuilding. Local artists and community groups can play a key role in leading the change.

She added: "A green recovery means moving on from a broken economy that left whole communities behind. We can breathe new life into town and village centres. Our future depends on it."

As reported last week, Ms Burgess, argued that wind developments in Caithness should only go ahead with full support of local people.

Scottish Greens are calling for an expansion of the country's onshore wind industry – but are offering reassurance to those in the far north who say they are too many turbines here.

Ms Burgess insists renewable energy is critical to meeting climate targets and "ensuring our survival". But she wants communities to have a greater say in planning and to take ownership of projects where possible.

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