Launch of first project in River Ness public arts programme

One of the spin-off benefits of the River Ness Flood Scheme is the creation of a major public arts programme to enhance the attractions of the riverscape in Inverness city centre.

A total of £750,000 has been earmarked for the programme, entitled SHIFT//SEÒL, that will feature a series of permanent artworks of high quality to enhance the riverscape and increase the number of people visiting the area.

The arts programme is being funded by The Highland Council and the Inverness Common Good Fund. Creative Scotland has committed £46,600 funds for the Stage 1 development of the project and has earmarked £259,000 for its implementation, subject to a successful application at Stage 2. The programme is being governed by the Council’s Inverness City Arts Group (ICArts).

The first project to be developed is called River Connections and the brief for this £60,000 project was launched today (Friday) at a public exhibition in the Town House, Inverness, where plans for the flood defence construction were on display. 

The appointed artist or artistic team for River Connections will work closely with the River Ness Flood Scheme team and ICArts to create ideas for art features on the flood walls and key sites around the banks of the River Ness

Councillor Ken Gowans, Chair, ICArts, is excited by the opportunities the multi-million pound flood scheme has generated for the public arts programme.

He said: “The River Ness is a huge asset for Inverness and we have a great opportunity to reflect the cultural importance of Inverness, the Highlands and Scotland. The programme aims to connect people with the cultural influences of the river through a series of permanent high quality artwork that locals will enjoy. News of these projects will be especially encouraging for Highland and Scottish artists who may be well placed to undertake some of the commissions.

“All of the projects should provide opportunities for youth employment and training. They should have an educational outcome and work closely with the third sector and local businesses to provide a legacy for the city.”

The public arts programme will complement and relate to the Flood Scheme, which will be completed in two phases.  The SHIFT//SEÒL commissions are intended to run throughout both schemes.

Phase 1 stretches between Ness Bridge and Friars Bridge (Bank Street, Douglas Row and Huntly Street).  A contract for £8.5 million has been awarded to Morgan Sindall and work is due to start before the end of August on the city centre side of the river.

Phase 2 stretches from Friars Bridge north to the harbour and mouth of the River Ness.  Work is due to continue until spring 2015.

26 Jul 2013