The opening of Fàs, Sabhal  Mòr Ostaig’s new  £8m centre for Creative and Cultural Industries on Skye, will be carried out today by First Minister, Alex Salmond MSP.

The First Minister, who recently delivered the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig televised Lecture, said of the new centre,
“The new centre for creative and cultural industries at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has the potential to emerge as the birthplace of a whole host of new and exciting Gaelic cultural products and services.”

The official opening marks another massive step forward in the development of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, as the National Centre for Gaelic Language and culture.

Since its founding in 1973, Sabhal Mòr has been at the forefront of the battle to save and strengthen the base and the community of the Gaelic language and culture. It is the only provider of Higher and Further Education delivering its entire programme from access learning through to post-graduate study and research, through the medium of Gaelic. In addition, through the College’s fast expanding Lifelong Learning department, an extensive range of short courses and supported distance learning programmes has ensured an ever increasing national and international student base.

Under the inspired leadership of Prof. Norman N Gillies, the College’s dynamic and innovative Director, the past decade has seen a massive expansion of the College’s estates with successive developments at Àrainn Ostaig and Àrainn Chaluim Chille on Skye and at its sister Campus, Ionad Chaluim Chille Ile on the island of Islay. These developments have not only ensured the expansion of high quality educational opportunity through the medium of Gaelic but also, have been recognised as a significant ‘economic driver’ within the area.

William Roe, Chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, one of the key funders of Fàs said today,

"HIE is really pleased to have made such a significant and leading contribution to Fàs, which is a hugely important project for Skye, both culturally and economically.

“At £3.6m overall HIE's support was our largest-ever investment in a single creative industries project anywhere in the Highlands and Islands, and was critical in ensuring that the project would progress. High quality jobs are being supported and a world-class business environment has been created in a rural area.

“Developing quality learning infrastructure is fundamental to the long term growth and sustainability of the Highlands and Islands. The mix of cultural and business activity at Fàs  will create a vibrant centre for creativity, promoting creative industry as well as creativity and the arts, in the context of Gaelic culture and language.

“SMO and Fàs are together a key driver of the economy of Skye and Lochalsh. We in HIE are delighted that the new Fàs building is being launched, and we look forward to continuing to work with SMO in the future.”

The important link between linguistic, social and cultural regeneration and strategic economic development has long been recognised by the Trustees of Sabhal Mòr and this latest development is a practical manifestation of that important strand of the College’s mission.

The new centre, Fàs, which means growth, will provide for a critical mass of activities in the field of Gaelic arts, culture, heritage, broadcasting, film and new media. It will act as a catalyst for the further development of existing businesses and as an incubator for the growth of new businesses which seek to meet the growing demand for products and services with cultural content. Fàs will also seek to facilitate the commercialisation of academic research; attract and support indigenous small and medium enterprises; and foster and support the development of an entrepreneurial culture.

Prof.Gillies said today,
“The opening of Fàs  marks the next step on an exciting new journey for Sabhal Mòr and for Gaelic. In bringing all these new developments and initiatives under one roof, in an immersed and dynamic language rich environment, it opens up many new possibilities for interesting and productive collaborations across the different media. This is an exciting and challenging time in the history of the language, with the advent of the new Gaelic Digital Channel and it is very much our hope that Fàs  will make a significant contribution to the  future of this important ‘new media’ sector”

The centre, constructed by UBC Ltd and designed by architects Gillespies, is sited on a beautiful coastal location adjacent to their previous award-winning Àrainn Chaluim Chille Campus on south Skye.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is a partner institute of the UHI Millennium Institute and a previous winner of The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Excellence and Innovation in Further and Higher Education.