Renfrewshire Council

Charity hopes to grow after new sports centre lease gets green light

A Renfrewshire charity is building for the future after councillors agreed for them to take over the lease for their current base.

Erskine Arts have been renting space in the upper floor of the town's community sport centre since 2021, but have been looking to make the facility a more permanent home.

The group have been active in the town since 2008 and currently runs a wide-ranging programme aimed at using culture to help build community, which includes training for young people in creative industries such as film, media, and music.

Councillors recently agreed to lease the upper floor of the sports centre to Erskine Arts to allow them to develop it and grow the organisation even further. OneRen will continue to run the sports facilities on the ground floor as before.

The lease is for an initial three years, which will allow Erskine Arts the chance to work towards an application for a community asset transfer which would make the facility a more permanent base.

Erskine Arts managing director Ali Whitty says this agreement will allow the charity to expand what they do.

He said: "For as long as I can remember, our young membership shared a vision for a place of their own. Moving to Erskine Sports Centre was something we spoke about a lot but it seemed more of a pipe dream than anything else at the time.

"Since we relocated, we became a registered charity and developed a whole programme for adults, drop-in activity, multi-artform workshops and support groups which saw our attendance soar.

"The lease means we can access funding to make some much-needed renovations to the venue, creative workshop spaces and local signposting. That will probably happen over spring next year and then we can have more of an official opening.

"We've secured some funding from the council's Culture, Heritage and Events Fund for 2024. That's going to allow us to kickstart box office events and hopefully attract some special artists to come and perform, putting Erskine back on the map as a live destination.

"We're creating an arts centre but not in the typical sense. For many it's a home from home. We support those that need it most and our aim is to break down barriers to culture, creating a space that's inclusive, safe and most importantly fun."

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: "Erskine Arts have been a big presence in the area for a number of years now and they have big plans to grow the organisation even further.

"I am delighted we have been able to help them do that by offering a more permanent home within the town from which they can continue the work they do to help improve lives through culture.

"It's important for the council to continue to find ways to support groups who are doing that within their communities and I look forward to seeing what Erskine Arts will do next."

Published Thursday 28 December 2023.