In May 2014 Kevin Murray Associates were commissioned by Highlife Highland and the Highland Council to facilitate a community discussion on the prospect of a cultural centre in Inverness. The brief was to lead the session based on the first principles that the evening would explore a culture-led town centre regeneration project that was multi-use (library, museum, art gallery etc.) and of national scale ambition and partnering.
KMA researched and prepared a presentation of multi-use centres from around Scotland, the UK and Europe, to demonstrate the types of uses that could co-exist and learn from how other places had approached culture-led regeneration. In amongst this were examples of cultural centres that had failed, either from failed management or too sterile a use.
Following the presentation we gamed the possible make-up of a multi-use cultural centre for Inverness. Each group came up with a different emphasis for the cultural centre concept, but a series of principles emerged:
1. A destination factor is crucial – provided that the people-drawing effect was to the enhancement of the city and not the detriment by ‘emptying out’ of some areas.
2. Co-location of production and consumption was considered a key move, particularly if it represented a ‘filling’ of the gaps in the Inverness cultural scene.
3. The regenerative effect is key for Inverness, therefore this needs extremely careful consideration in terms of location and network.
4. Progress the idea based on good knowledge of the cultural landscape in Inverness and use this to address the risk of merely diluting the existing.
5. All groups built up a vision of a place that has multiple uses, with the justification that some uses would be present to financially sustain the centre by generating an income, such as a café, childcare or other commercial element.
Thanks to all the participants, Highland Highlife and Highland Council.