The ‘Far North Revisited’ project originates from a community consultation held in 2010/11. This identified a need to attract new people to come and live and work in the area, a lack of residential and business property available to rent, and the need for a local community space in which courses could be hosted. A consultation session with Balnakeil residents revealed a clear concern that more creative businesses were needed to make the Craft Village sustainable. This project aims at addressing each of these issues.
This project has five clear objectives which are aimed at addressing the identified issues ;
- To enable the local community to own a new community asset suitable for a range of community activities and volunteering
- To generate an ongoing income stream supporting the sustainability of the project and improving the social, economic, and environmental wellbeing of the Craft Village as a thriving centre for arts and crafts
- To remove the financial barriers associated with establishing a new creative business and introducing new training and employment opportunities
- To encourage new people to live and work in a community which is suffering from long term depopulation
- To reduce the cost of and increase participation in community arts and crafts activities
We want to acquire a suitable building in the Craft Village and make it available for an artist or crafts person to rent on an affordable basis, a similar concept to the original ‘Far North’ project. The intention is that the building will be purchased and operated by Durness Development Group on behalf of the wider community. Not only will it provide a place to live, fully renovated to a high standard, but also a shared workshop and retail space. These will be made available for the hosting of various community arts programmes in partnership with the North West Training Centre and often delivered by local artists and crafts people. In this way we believe that we can stimulate an interest in creative arts, encourage local participation in the longer term, and create an important community asset. The income from the rented accommodation will provide essential revenue to make the project sustainable and in time, to develop further.