Update from December 2014
The problem with community-led projects is that every little positive step forward takes forever to achieve!
And, in a sense, it is only right that projects like Ionad Hiort should have a long gestation. After all, we have to rely, mostly, on public money to make it happen. It carries risk, so every little detail has to be well thought out. It has to be as financially sustainable and robust as we can possibly make it.
Sometimes the process can be very frustrating both for the people closely involved, who have devoted so much time to it, and also for the wider Uig community who, after four years of talk about Ionad Hiort, rightly expect something tangible to be happening.
The good news is that essential progress has been made and we are optimistic that a lot has been achieved over this past year which will bear fruit in the not too distant future.
The project was given a fantastic boost at the start of the year when HIE agreed to fund the next stage of consultants’ work. Together with the Council, they also made money available for fact-finding visits to centres that are doing similar things to what we envisage for Ionad Hiort.
To date there have been a number of centres visited both here in Scotland and in Ireland. These include the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick; the Blasket Islands Centre in Dingle; the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare and the Giants Causeway Centre in County Antrim.
As far as the consultants’ role is concerned, the briefs for the next stage of development have now been prepared by the local group in collaboration with a team from the Glasgow School of Art Institute of Design Innovation, who have become important supporters of the project (see accompanying article by Kate Hooper).
HIE have now approved the briefs and they are out to procurement.
When appointed, the consultants will help us build on this work and over the next few months we will co-operate closely with them in order to put together the final Business Plan and Prospectus which will then go out to potential funders of the overall project. It can be seen, therefore, that while it has been a long and painstaking process so far, a conclusion is in sight based on the detailed work that has been done.
We are obliged to raise some money on our own behalf to contribute to ongoing costs and the local Ionad Hiort fund-raising event in the Community Centre in May raised a fantastic £7000. It was a superb evening with great entertainment, a truly magnificent effort by all involved. Later on in the summer some of the members visited St Kilda with the team from the Glasgow School of Art.
A lot of our collaboration so far with Glasgow School of Art has focused on developing the concept of Ionad Hiort in a way that will bring maximum benefits to the community. The creative challenge is to interpret the stories of Hiort in the best possible ways, using cutting-edge technology as well as more traditional source material.
But we also want the centre to give people a reason to stay for longer than a day’s visit. That is an important and ongoing part of the group’s dialogue with others involved in developing the project.
Uig needs people and work. Ionad Hiort is capable of making a substantial contribution to the economic well-being of the area and to creating employment, both directly and indirectly. The challenge is to find sensitive, sustainable ways of delivering these objectives.
Look out for further Ionad Hiort up-dates in the next issue of Uig News. Meantime we would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy & Prosperous New Year.
The Ionad Hiort Team.