Scotland’s Culture Secretary orders review as St Peter’s Seminary future again uncertain with closure of arts company NVA

edinburgh view Fiona Newton IHBCSt Peter’s Seminary, one of Scotland’s most acclaimed modernist buildings – with plans featured at the IHBC’s Edinburgh Annual School in 2014 – seemed to have found new hope with the ground breaking arts company NVA, but that future has been derailed since the announcement that the company will close in September this year.

The NVA Board writes:

‘In September of last year the trustees of NVA made the difficult decision to withdraw from the capital project plans to rescue St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, due to increasing risks, both financial and physical. NVA’s original plan for St Peter’s was universally acknowledged as bold, with creative ambition at its heart. It was also recognised as a high risk venture for a small independent arts organisation. NVA has spent many years working with great passion and determination, with the support of the owners of the site, the Archdiocese of Glasgow, to save this iconic building for future generations. We collaborated with public and private stakeholders, the local communities and an amazing design team. Important work was done to begin to preserve and restore the building and to demonstrate the immense creative, intellectual and community potential of the site…

‘Despite our best efforts we were unable to guarantee the viable future for the St Peter’s Seminary that we had imagined and hoped for. In the end, we had no choice but to bring the capital project to an end.’

…NVA is now ‘not able to continue’.

The Herald Scotland writes:

NVA, an acclaimed and innovative company led by creative director Angus Farquhar, will cease operations this year, months after losing out in the controversial Regular Funding decisions made by Creative Scotland, the arts funding body. Last night, the culture secretary, Fiona Hyslop, asked Historic Environment Scotland to study the former seminary, designed and built by the late Glasgow architects Andy MacMillan and Isi Metzstein in 1966, and report on its ‘long term options.’ Ms Hyslop said she would like the building to ‘continue to fascinate and inspire the public’ and noted that she was ‘very sad’ that NVA is to close, adding ‘since its foundation 25 years ago, it has earned a reputation as one of the most innovative public arts companies.’

The building, an impressive and foreboding modernist ruin in the Kilmahew woodland of Dunbartonshire, is A-listed, and the World Monument Fund has it scheduled as one of the world’s most endangered cultural landmarks. NVA staged the Hinterland project in the ruins in 2016, and this year have made a film with artist Rachel Maclean, but its long term £11m project to transform the ‘stabilised ruins’ into a cultural centre and performance space is over.

Since 2013, NVA spent £2.3m on the building, including removing hazardous waste and asbestos, the restoration of 80 vaults, improving paths, clearing away invasive plants, and woodland management in the 104 acre site. The building still belongs to the Archdiocese of Glasgow, for which a spokesman said: ‘We are sorry to learn of the closure of NVA and the subsequent impact on plans to secure and develop the former St Peter’s College at Cardross. NVA were visionary in their hopes for the college site and it is a great shame that these hopes will not now be realised. The Archdiocese will now consider its options and consider any proposal to develop the site in a way which will secure the architecture of the former college and benefit the local community…’

Read more….

For background see the IHBC Annual School 2014 – Edinburgh and the Day School

Read more about the announcement at BBC News Scotland and Bella Caledonia

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