In March, Cnoc Soilleir, an innovative joint venture between Lews Castle College UHI and Ceòlas Uibhist to establish a new building for education, Gaelic language and the arts, reached a new milestone.
The project was awarded £1.8m from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF). Highlands and Islands Enterprise also announced a further £1.1m capital grant award.
These key awards top up previous funding from the Scottish Government, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Fèisean nan Gàidheal and the Cnoc Soilleir 500 individuals, and represents over 95% of all finances required for the Phase One build. The project has received further support from Stòras Uibhist, local councillors and politicians, the Church of Scotland and Creative Scotland, growing out of 20 years of collaboration between LCC and the wider island community.
Phase One construction of the Cnoc Soilleir building is expected to start later this spring on the site in Dalabrog, Isle of South Uist, and will include teaching spaces, a library and resource centre, offices for both organisations, a recording studio and a communal gathering space. The structure will be built to PassivHaus standards and will combine exemplary energy efficiency, minimised running costs and CO2 emissions to maximise the building’s environmental and economical sustainability.
The facility will establish a beacon of excellence for Gaelic music, culture and heritage, improving local access to both formal and informal education and offer cultural engagement opportunities for both visitors and residents.
The project’s improved capacity will enable further growth in the Gaelic-language economy in an area which is recognised as a key community for the revitalisation of the Gaelic language in Scotland and will contribute to making Uist a desirable place to live and work. The new community asset will transform an area rich in cultural heritage, providing a place of learning and development for the community, visitors and students alike.
Now that Phase One funding is almost all in place, work will intensify to secure financial support to realise Phase Two, which will comprise a bespoke auditorium and dance facilities.