Assessment: We are you. You is us.

Assessment A
Social Media
Joy Parkinson

As many people in the community may be aware, a number of art venues across Edinburgh have been made to close after the Edinburgh University Settlement becomes another institution to fall victim to the recession. The EUS is a charitable body that once owned a number of buildings across Edinburgh which were later transformed into art venues, however after the charity declared bankruptcy such venues were forced to close their doors leaving many members of the art community in mourning.

A spokesman for the EUS issued a statement saying:
“Our first priority has been to carry out a thorough review of the charity’s activities, during which we discovered that the EUS was not only operating with a substantial cost base but it did not have the income to support its ongoing activities.”

He added:
“Over the coming weeks, we will be carrying out a more detailed review but what is clear is that there is no funding to meet the ongoing liabilities.”

It has been rumoured that the charity’s outgoings exceeded their income by up to £300,000 for the last year forcing venues such as The GRV and Roxy Art House to close their doors. The Forest however has decided to try and stay strong, doing their upmost to raise enough money to buy the building where the Forest is based estimated at £500,000.

Although many passersby may dismiss the converted church situated on Bristo Place people in the know are saddened to hear of its possible sale.
The Forest is known as ‘a volunteer run, not-for-profit’ space that hosts a number of art related events and workshops. For over a decade the property has provided the city of Edinburgh with a free art and events venue currently playing host to an array of galleries, studios and workshops ranging from poetry readings to photography classes, dance parties to darkroom development.
Not only is The Forest a creative venue but it is also seen as a community that welcomes and encourages creative thinking and living, an ethos that is currently under threat if the charity has to shut.

The Forest.

To raise awareness the Forest has created a ‘Save the Forest’ campaign which has been promoted on their Facebook and Tumblr blog page. In the last week the organisation raised £5000 through donations alone but has continued to host open meetings to come up with ideas to raise the remaining sum. So far, a number of fundraising events including zine writing sessions and open mic nights have been planned and organised.

The Forest

The Forest doesn’t see such a sum as unfeasible. The art community in Edinburgh is huge and the fan base for the building is just as big. People like the idea that the events and workshops in the Forest are free and such support has been seen on online sites such as the Forest’s own discussion board and via posts on Facebook.
Comments are both of help and support.

Steph Lazerte posted:
‘ i love you i love you i love you don’t go!’

And Fiona Didham said
‘Wish we were there to help out! It would be unbelievably sad if this amazing place wasn’t able to continue. Don’t let the Bastards bring you down! Forest will LIVE!’

After visiting the Forest I talked to Simon Howarth, a worker for the Forest. He said:
“I work in the Forest cafe twice a week helping with the food and drink. I work for free and in return get my studio for free which helps bring in an income. If the Forest was to close down I would be looking at having to pay more than £100 a month for a professional studio, money that I currently cannot afford.”

He added:
“ The Forest is a one of a kind place. Not only does it run workshops, it allows artists and creatives to use the space provided. It has many studios and I like many would be out of work if the venue was to close down. I may not be working for money, but I am working to be part of a community that promotes artistic flair.”

Although many people are saddened by the news that the Forest may be shutting down, a number of people feel that the sum is too large to raise. Olga Bloemen, a member of the Forest said:
“Regarding the Forest, I actually don’t think they’ll be able to raise enough money to stay in the place they are now. They need at least £500,000, some even say a million.

She continued:
“The shelter next to Forest is also for sale, so if a big project developer would want to, they can turn the whole complex into a big hotel/restaurant. It’s such a prime location that people will probably be willing to pay a lot of money for it! I think the Forest community will need to find a new place, a cheaper, possibly subsidised one. Maybe they can work together with the New Victoria, which is being restored as a community arts space.”

At the moment the Forest’s future hangs in the balance but what is evident is that when a community is in need of help, people come together to offer a helping hand.
News is continuously being updated here:!/group.php?gid=2504741238&v=wall

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