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New creative hub and café being built at arts studio in Lybster

By David G Scott

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An arts complex in Lybster says it is devising a host of "imaginative ways" to help to reduce social isolation and improve the mental health and wellbeing of Caithness residents going forward.

To support this, North Lands Creative (NLC) is excited to announce that building work has now commenced across its campus to create a new Creative Community Hub. The programme of works will lead to a "much improved modern facility for the benefit of the local community" with welcoming spaces to enjoy creative arts and includes a community café, dedicated disabled toilet with baby change facilities and a gallery and maker-space.

Director, Karen Phillips commented: “Even if we don’t consider ourselves to be particularly artistic, most of us like to create in one way or another, whether this means drawing, gardening, or cooking food that brings us comfort.

"Because using the arts for self-expression can be incredibly empowering and can promote healing we are delighted to be working with so many partners and artists to improve our facilities. The refurbishments to make a Creative Community Hub is great news and we look forward to sharing our ideas with the community over the next few months as part of celebrating 25 years in the village of Lybster.”

The director added that the plan is to encourage the local community to use the buildings to meet socially, make friends and not feel isolated. The new spaces give the community access to more creative spaces and activities on their doorstep. The upgrading of the Alastair Pilkington Studio and Quatre Bras sites along with a new community café and maker-space is welcomed, she said.

"We are inviting the community to a series of online open evenings this summer to discuss our ideas where the North Lands team can show how the new layout will bring improved access and much needed additional resources. It is anticipated that all of the works will be completed by the end of the year."

Since opening in 1995, NLC has been a distinctive and special place, and an important resource as a Centre of Excellence for Glass, the arts and for audiences in the region – as well as being a significant force in the national and international glass world.

Director Karen Phillips added: “As we look forward to our 25th anniversary, I’m delighted to welcome the support of government, community and third sector funding. Their generous support will enable us to complete the redevelopment and renovation of our facilities by improving our digital capabilities as well as the development of our physical spaces, which will create new opportunities for our region and create a vibrant meeting place for all.

"The support we have received from our funders demonstrates their commitment to North Lands Creative and our place in the cultural life of Caithness and nationally. I wish to thank them, and Creative Scotland, for all they have done to ensure we have so much to look forward to in the years ahead and I cannot wait to welcome back our artists, audiences and visitors to enjoy and experience all that we have to offer.”

If you would like to be involved in the new creative community hub, please let NLC know by emailing community@northlandscreative.co.uk and join one of the virtual open evenings. These online events will give people the opportunity to meet and hear from staff and ask questions and find out more about its future programming.

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