A major fundraising campaign has been launched to raise cash for a new art, design and crafts centre for the Orkney community.

Organisers behind the Orkney Creative Hub project are looking to raise £1 million by April to buy and adapt the former Ortak workshop and visitor centre in Kirkwall and are now appealing for public support.

The Orkney Creative Hub aims to provide a central location for education, development and enterprise opportunities for artists, designers and crafters of all ages and abilities, across many disciplines, from within and outwith Orkney.

The initiative – driven by Orkney Crafts Association, Orkney Arts and Crafts and the not-for-profit art shop, For Arts Sake – has been set up as a Community Interest Company, ensuring its assets will stay within the community. Any profits from the project will be distributed to local charities.

“Orkney has a long established creative heritage, but this will be the first time we’ll have a central site where established artists and makers can promote their work,” said project lead and For Arts Sake representative, Jan Judge. “It’ll also be a place where the community will have access to the resources needed to develop their individual creativity, and will offer support and mentoring to anyone who wishes to turn their talent into a business. Importantly, the Hub’s outreach programme will allow us to support artists and makers in the outer isles and bring the exhibitions to the wider community.”

In addition, Jan said the Hub would provide supported volunteering and employment opportunities for those less able to join the workplace, in addition to offering new creative experiences.

“Inclusivity is very much the ethos of this project,” added Heather Croy, from Orkney Crafts Association. “The space will allow us to include a range of educational facilities not found elsewhere in the islands, covering, for example, teaching and instruction in ceramics, jewellery making and textiles. The Hub, which has been a vision of Orkney’s creative community for well over a decade, will also provide opportunities for those outwith the County to access the facilities throughout the year, lending support to the remote economy and extending the tourist season.”

According to Heather, the old Ortak building offered a central and accessible site that could encompass a wide range of activities, from a retail shop, gallery and exhibition space, to educational and business start-up workshop areas, and a cafe for meeting and performance use.

The project team – currently making approaches to a wide range of potential external funders – is keen to offer the Orkney community opportunities to support the initiative at an affordable level.

“We’re asking members of the community if they could sponsor a square foot of the Ortak building for £10, with the aim of raising around £250,000,” explained Orkney Arts and Craft’s Clive Horton. “We only have exclusivity on the Ortak premises until April and then it’ll go back on the open market. It’s a challenge, but we’re hoping the people of Orkney will see the value of the project and help us secure the building to make this dream come true.”

Anyone who’d like to make a donation to the project can do so via the Donation button on the Orkney Creative Hub website www.orkneycreativehub.org.uk. There are also options to become project members, without any financial obligation.

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