Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for the development of the Gaelic language and Culture, and a key part of UHI, thisweek takes a major step forward, with the launch of Fàs,(Gaelic for growth) the new centre for the Creative and Cultural Industries, now under construction on a site adjacent to the College’s award winning Àrainn Chaluim Chille campus onSouth Skye.

The new centre represents the next important stage in the development of Sabhal Mòr, enabling it to further consolidate and enhance its role as a national centre of excellence for the preservation, enhancement and development of the Gaelic language and culture.
The centre received a boost when Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) approved further funding towards the project at their recent Board meeting,signalling the green light for the project.

The centre, currently being constructed by UBC Group Ltd, will provide for the development of a critical mass of activity in the Gaelic Arts, Culture and Heritage and will act as an ‘incubator’ for new businesses which seek to satisfy the growing demand for new products and services with cultural content and, in particular, for complimentary activity across a wide range of new media.

Director of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Prof. Dr. Norman Gillies said recently,

“The future economic well-being of the Gaelic community is essentially linked to the future health of the language and, whilst education is central to this, there is a need for greater synergy across sectors, to ensure an holistic approach. Fàs will seek to create such synergies by bringing together academia, new media, the arts, cultural heritage, applied research, business and community, in a dynamic which will create opportunities for knowledge, generation and transfer and foster the conditions for sustainable enterprise and wealth creation.”

The new £7.1m centre will be completed within a year and will sustain around 70 direct jobs along with a further 20 ‘downstream’ . It will also create business incubation space for new business start ups in a supported new media environment, along with providing purpose designed premises for many of the College’s programmes and initiatives, along with existing businesses such as the highly successful multiple media company, Cànan, which now operates internationally.

Cànan Chief Executive, Donella Beaton said this week,
“We are absolutely delighted that Fàs is now at this stage, particularly as Cànan will be an integral part of the development. Not only will it be good for Cànan as a growing company but it will also allow us to work with other compatible businesses and participate in national programmes and national learning initiatives.”

Representing Highlands and Islands Enterprise who have invested £2,590,000 in the project, Robert Muir, Chief Executive of HIE Skye and Wester Ross, said:
“We are pleased to be making this contribution and supporting these high quality jobs. Developing quality learning infrastructure is fundamental to the long term growth and sustainability of the area. The mix of cultural and business activity 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 has helped transform Gaelic into a language which is the expression of a vibrant, modern, forward-looking culture. We look forward to seeing the new building when completed and continuing to work with SMO in the future.”


Councillor Alison Magee, Convener of The Highland Council, which has
contributed substantially to the project, added:
“Highland Council are delighted to have contributed towards the capital programme for this wonderful project which places Gaelic language and culture at the cutting edge of development in new media and advanced digital technologies.”

Dennis Malone of the HIPP, which has also contributed to the initiative, said today,
"This is an exciting multi-partnership project which is a key investment
in the Skye and Lochalsh area. We are looking forward to seeing the
project come to fruition and are pleased that EU funding is involved."

Fàs will provide for a ‘state of the art’ new media environment, including a full broadcast standard digital television recording studio, sound recording studio, theatre and post production facilities, a new centre for visual arts and research, office space, incubation units and the Fàs Mòr creche which will move to the new building from its current temporary home at Àrainn Ostaig.

The Mackenzie Partnership will be responsible for the management of the project with the building designed by architects, Gillespie’s of Glasgow, led by architects George Mulvagh and Graeme Peart, who designed both the award winning Àrainn Chaluim Chille campus on Skye and, its ‘sister campus’, Ionad Chaluim Chille, on Islay.

The new centre will operate both an ‘attraction strategy’ engaging established companies to locate there and an ‘incubation strategy’ whereby incubation space and incubation support services will allow for the commercialisation of research and the translation of graduate business ideas into new business enterprises.

SMO Director of Development, Donnie Munro said, that the new centre’s holistic approach responded to the challenges and opportunities of the new digital culture, created by the converging of traditional cultural content and new media. Growth in this area, he said, is being driven by the ever increasing demand for quality cultural products and services.

The new building, situated on the coastline to the south of the existing campus, offers a wonderful showcase opportunity for the contractors, the fast growing UBC Group Ltd. The building’s location and outlook is truly spectacular and an appropriate setting for an inspirational and visionary development of this type.

Mr James Pedrana, Managing Director of UBC Group, said at the project launch,
“UBC Group are delighted to undertake these works on behalf of Sabhal Mor Ostaig and very much look forward to working with all parties to produce a quality facility that the College will be proud of.
We see the project as a flagship for our own future business development, not just on Skye, but within all operational boundaries. To have been awarded such a prestigious contract will give the Group an opportunity to build on the significant growth that has occurred over recent years and allow further expansion in line with our business objectives.
There are busy and exciting times ahead for the Isle of Skye and we are currently looking at a number of opportunities, the details of which will emerge over the coming months, to establish our presence in, and commitment to, the area.”