Arts Centre for Merchant City

29 Jul 2009

by Phil Miller, Evening Times
A new £8m arts centre in Glasgow's Merchant City is now ready for a series of galleries, artists, and film-makers which will make it the "engine room" of Glasgow's cultural quarter.

Trongate 103, as it will be known, has been developed by Glasgow City Council, Culture and Sport Glasgow, and the Scottish Arts Council to be a home for eight separate galleries and more than 40 artist studios, as well as a cafe, film-making studios and public spaces.

The six-storey Edwardian former warehouse in King Street will be home to Glasgow Print Studio, Street Level Photoworks, the Transmission Gallery, the Russian Cultural Centre, Glasgow Independent Studios, Sharmanka, Glasgow Media Access Centre, and Project Ability.

The Herald was yesterday given a guided tour of the new facility, which has taken more than half a decade to come to fruition and contains 7913 square metres of space.

The Transmission Gallery is known as one of the city's key contemporary arts spaces, while Glasgow Print Studio, founded in 1972, has had a stream of leading Scottish artists, such as John Byrne, Alasdair Gray, and Adrian Wiszniewski, display their prints there. Glasgow Media Access Centre is an acclaimed but low-budget, film-making body and the Russian cultural centre includes a Russian cafe, Cafe Cossachok.

The building - with its public entrance in the busy thoroughfare of Trongate - which will hold exhibitions, will be the home for activity from all aspects of art, including printmaking, photography, digital media, film and video, sculpture, painting, and ceramics.

The eight companies are all currently in nearby accommodation but will move into the new arts centre this summer, ready for its official opening to the public in September.

There is also dedicated space for visiting international artists and several areas where artists and other people using the building can mingle and meet, as well as the offices of the Glasgow International contemporary art festival.

Trongate 103, situated in an area which also includes the Tron Theatre, the Briggait building, which is being developed into artists studios, will also offer education programmes for schools, and projects for youth and community groups.

The block is a conversion of three existing buildings. It has been funded by Glasgow City Council with a total of £5.75m, the Scottish Arts Council's National Lottery Fund with £1.5m, Scottish Enterprise Glasgow with £500,000, and the Merchant City Townscape Heritage Initiative gave £750,000. It has been organised by the council, the eight organisations involved and Culture and Sport Glasgow, which runs the city's museums and art galleries.

Clare Simpson of Culture and Sport Glasgow said: "The idea was that all these organisations had set up in this area of town because then the rents were cheap, but as time went on and the area changed, developers were looking to move in.

"We wanted to make sure that the area remained focused on the arts and we have involved the organisations from the start, the whole process has been incredibly collaborative, and now this centre will be a focus for exhibition, production, training and education."

George Ryan, executive member for development and regeneration, said: "The investment in our creative industries will pay off through underlining the city's worldwide status in contemporary art, its attractiveness as a cultural destination and is another landmark in the regeneration of the Merchant City.

"Hundreds of artists will be based at Trongate 103, with many thousands more coming through its doors to create, view or learn about art."

Produced with the permission of the Herald & Times Group.

  • Interior of Trongate 103

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