The arts and learning in Lochalsh and Skye have a brand new platform with the launch of a venture in Kyle.
The former Red Cross premises in the village’s Main Street have been converted into an arts centre – Skye Bridge Studios 123 – where it is planned to hold a wide range of events and courses.
The studios are part of a wider development, called the Skye Bridge Experience, which also includes a restaurant and accommodation across the water in Kyleakin.
Former drama teacher Jonathan Supper, originally from Reading but who has lived locally for 16 years, bought the premises last year and began renovating the old school building in Kyle to create a state-of-the-art three-studio complex.
The studios, which include an 80-seat auditorium, are now available for learning in the form of residential and non-residential workshops, for performing, music, drama and dance and rental space for conferences, exhibitions and life-long learning.
The venture also includes budget hostel accommodation, two guest houses with 16 letting rooms and Saucy Marys restaurant and bar, all in Kyleakin.
Joe Plumb, the artistic director at Skye Bridge Studios 123, said: “We’ve had a lot of good reactions. When people come into the studios and see the space they’re blown over by the transformation of the building.”
The three rooms comprise a large auditorium complete with lighting and sound, a spacious gallery area suitable for exhibitions and a smaller room for meetings and rehearsals.
Joe admitted it had been “challenging” launching an arts venue during a pandemic. The first performance was over the summer, held out of doors at Kyleakin. The piece, called The Last Ferryman, was penned by Joe himself and explored local stories and legends.
Joe, who hails from the Isle of Wight, was finishing his Masters in Playwriting at the University of Manchester when he saw the artistic director’s job advertised.
“I’ve always been interested in the arts and education so I decided to apply,” said Joe who delivers creative writing courses at the centre as well as co-teaching young performers classes.
Lorayne McLucas tutors adult dance and young performers while the team also includes two part-time members of staff.
The inaugural autumn/winter season at Skye Bridge Studios 123 includes brand new theatre performances, family-friendly activities, live music sessions, films and concerts.
This Monday (18th October) saw the start of Kids Week, a half-term week of arts, nature, team work, circus, music and performance for primary school aged children.
The centre is also keen to give a platform to emerging local and Scottish bands. The Skye Bridge Sessions held monthly in Studio 3 showcases local talent with recent performances by Man of the Minch and Randolph’s Leap.
Currently running at the centre is Isle 2 Isle, a creative collaboration between two photographic artists, Lynn Fraser and Sara Taylor from the Black Isle and Skye.
“We’re working with different partners and local artists, and have a very exciting programme lined up,” said Joe.
You can check out the programme by clicking here.
Article by Jackie MacKenzie, images by Willie Urquhart.
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