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Arts / Arts organisation agrees to buy old kirk as it turns focus back to Burra

The Gaada HQ is pictured in the middle of the photo.

A LOCAL arts organisation is now looking to renovate and develop its existing premises instead of finding a site for a new build in Scalloway.

Gaada has agreed to purchase the old Methodist kirk in Bridge End, which it currently uses as a visual art workshop.

Director and co-founder Daniel Clark said the plan is to develop this into an “accessible and ambitious neurodiverse making space”.

In 2021 Gaada sought help in finding a site for new premises in nearby Scalloway as it looked to expand.

But it is now instead focusing on its existing premises in Burra after overcoming some of the hurdles the ex-church presented.

“Over the past year we have solved many of the issues, such as including poor transport connections and accommodation for visiting artists, that were causing us to consider relocating to Scalloway,” Clark said.

“A lot of the solutions have come about through the better utilisation of existing local enterprises, like the Burra Tronda Minibus Association and the Bridge End Outdoor Centre.”

Architecture collective Assemble was recently in Shetland to work through the initial phase of redeveloping the Burra building.

Gaada has independently raised the full purchase cost for the chapel through sale of local artist editions, workshops, design commissions and providing artist talks to other UK organisations about its experience running a rural art organisation.

Clark said the redevelopment has also won the support of national funders like Creative Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and also Inspiring Scotland. 

“HIE has also match-funded Gaada through their Young Business Capital Investment Fund for an interior upgrade to the Toogs Artist Workshop which will make the space better equipped and more functional in the short term, whilst we continue the long term capital development work,” Clark added.

“We are aiming to relaunch the new improved workshop in time for Gaada’s fifth birthday which will take place in May 2023.”

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