COMHAIRLE leader Angus Campbell officially opened the brand new £2.6m Creative Industries and Media Centre (CIMC) today (Friday, March 9) which is located within Stornoway’s ‘media village’ on Seaforth Road.
Located in a former Harris Tweed Mill the new CIMC recognises the employment opportunities offered by the creative sector in the Outer Hebrides, particularly those associated with Gaelic.
The CIMC offers 1000sqm of serviced office and hot desk facilities for lease to creative businesses and freelancers, and has also provided additional office and production-related space for MG ALBA, the Gaelic Media Service. MG ALBA will operate the CIMC on behalf of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
The new building is adjacent to the existing headquarters and studio space of MG ALBA. MG ALBA works in partnership with the BBC to produce BBC ALBA and it’s from this Stornoway hub that channel continuity and management is provided. The Seaforth Road campus also houses Studio Alba, a large production and post-production television studio and sound stage.
Commenting on the opening of the CIMC, Councillor Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “The opening of this centre is a significant piece of infrastructure for the Outer Hebrides. I am delighted that the Comhairle have supported this development which demonstrates our commitment to securing economic benefit for the islands from the creative economy, particularly through building on the impact of the Gaelic digital channel, BBC ALBA.
“It has also been a significant boost to the local area and is much appreciated by the Resident’s Association. The local contractor, John Murray, has made an excellent job of the project.”
Archie Macdonald, HIE area manager said: “This new facility demonstrates the growing importance of the creative industries in the islands. It has the potential to create further employment in the media and creative sector.
“The region is rich in Gaelic language, culture and heritage and the centre will provide an important platform for building on these strengths and bring additional benefits to the area. The new state of the art facility is a vital hub for the industry and a major economic driver.
“Creative industries businesses are key players in the Outer Hebrides economy and indeed for the wider area, and this facility brings a significant boost to the sector.”
Speaking at the launch event, Alasdair Morrison, Chairman of MG ALBA, joked the coalition between MG Alba and the BBC was the most successful coalition in the British Isles.
He continued; “We have been greatly impressed with the facilities on offer at the CIMC which is a tremendous boost for the islands. It will help support and encourage the growth of businesses in the creative and media industries by providing an environment in which they can flourish.
“At present, there is a great level of creativity particularly in the Gaelic broadcasting industry coming out of Stornoway and beyond, and with the development of BBC ALBA it is hoped the new centre will allow for a synergy of productivity, predominantly from within the independent production sector.”
Designed by ZM Architecture, Glasgow, the main contractor for the redevelopment was John Murray and Sons, Stornoway, who together ensured the building’s previous incarnation as a Harris Tweed mill was reflected in the signage and fit out of the centre, which includes office chairs upholstered in Harris Tweed.
The development has also significantly enhanced community facilities in the area. Newton Residents Association, previously located at Seaforth Road, have benefited from a new distinct facility at the far end of the development, which includes office, kitchen and meeting space, increasing the services on offer to local residents and user groups.
The project was funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, whilst the building itself is owned by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.