The Trust has just published an exciting proposal for the conversion of the former Canongate Venture in New Street into a literature and literacy-focused community business, provisionally named the ‘Word Bank’. Described as “a publishing, literacy and writers’ centre with a distinctive community focus”, the Word Bank would include affordable office space for individuals and organisations broadly involved in publishing, writing, book production, writing programmes and literacy; communal meeting, exhibition, rehearsal and performance space; and a base for a range of community activities including publishing, local history, arts and cultural heritage projects.
A feasibility study into the proposal was carried out with support from the Scottish Community Foundation, Edinburgh World Heritage and the RIAS Scottish Community Projects Fund, The proposal is both about restoring pride to the community and about providing opportunities for local people to take an active part in the literary arts, not just as consumers but as practitioners.
The Trust believes that the arts can be a powerful force in community development as well as a sound economic investment - providing education, training and employment and business opportunities in the Old Town. Such a centre could be a start-up site for small or new businesses as well as a vehicle to unleash the creative potential of children, young people and the adult and elderly population.
The feasibility study was in two parts. The first part, a conservation study of the Canongate Venture building itself was completed in August 2011. The second part was an assessment of the business case for such a centre in the Canongate, looking at the various strands of the proposed business, the local context and potential partners, funding and income prospects and operational structures. It was carried out by the Pool, the consultancy arm of the Development Trust Association for Scotland. Both of these studies can be downloaded below.