Mexican could skewer fire station arts plans
AN ambitious project for an art centre at the old Dunfermline Fire Station could be skewered by plans to open a Mexican restaurant there.
A planning application has been submitted to change the use of the former Fire Station on Carnegie Drive to allow the opening of a restaurant.
Fife Council have refused to rule out selling the old station, which is still on the market, with discussions on its future planned for late August.
The Fife Labour group made an election commitment to make the art centre project a reality if it came to power at May's elections.
Senior local Labour sources told the Press they had made a commitment to work with the Fire Station Creative group to make it happen.
However, the council's head of asset and facilities management, Ken Gourlay, admitted the station was still up for sale and all options would be discussed next month.
He said, "The council is in discussion with a group around using the building as an arts centre and plans are currently being worked up in this regard.
"Meanwhile the building is still on the market and it is intended to bring a report to the next meeting of the executive committee after the summer recess to consider the options."
An application has been submitted by a Mr Munir Ahmed, 6 Arniffe Close, Bury, to open a restaurant on Carnegie Drive and make external alterations.
Under the Fire Station Creative group's plans the building would be transformed into an arts centre providing gallery space, studio space to hire, a cafe and a classroom for classes in fine art, design, craft, music, film and literature.
The iconic 1930s art deco building has been lying unused since the fire brigade moved to a new station at Pitreavie more than two years ago.
Plans to create an arts centre have received celebrity backing from Barbara Dickson, Ian Rankin and Richard Jobson.
Fire Station Creative group member Billy George said, "We had a meeting with (Fife Council Labour leader) Alex Rowley and Ken Gourlay, amongst others, less than two weeks ago.
"We are in constant dialogue with them. Alex Rowley is keen to facilitate the whole project and make sure that it happens.
"At the same time we are mindful of the fact the council could try and pull a stunt at any time.
"They did say they'd had a couple of derisory offers in but that's not been for a while.
"There's not been any hard and fast interest and it would cost anybody far too much money to make a restaurant out of the building so I don't think that it's feasible.
"You don't have to own a building to put in a change of use. We are planning on doing that as soon as possible.
"I'm still confident the art centre will go ahead. Things will continue to progress and we're very bullish about the whole thing."
Council leader Alex Rowley added, "We are committed to the principle of an arts centre in this building and have said that we want to work with the group to bring forward their proposals.
"I met with the group and council officials a few weeks ago and the group are continuing to work up their proposal and are working with council officials.
"Any proposal will need to go before the council executive and this is planned for the next meeting in August."
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Jul 8, 10:55
Check out the planning applications list in this week's Press: 3 x applications for change of use to a restaurant & alterations to this building.
Looks like a done deal to me, great news. Now all these 'artists' will have to move along, to try and find another tax payers cash cow to bleed?
Had to chuckle at "the Fife Labour group made an election commitment to make the art centre project a reality if it came to power at May's elections"............mwaha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
More promises promises, Clr Rowley?????????????????
Recommend? Yes 19 No 9
Jul 8, 11:11
Planning application submitted for a Mexican restaurant? I very much hope that this doesn't spell the beginning of the end of the plans for the arts centre. Aside from anything else just look at the building. If it doesn't scream "perfect venue for the arts" then I don't know what does.
I urge the council not to waste just glorious architecture on yet another eatery (heaven only knows we have enough of those already), give it to the arts so that Dunfermline can create a cultural icon to be proud of.
Recommend? Yes 13 No 16
Jul 8, 13:59
Opening a restaurant in the town centre is a slow life sentence. They all seem to fail with lack of passing trade and car parking. Let the Asian from Bury pay loads of money to turn the building into a restaurant as it will be back on sale in a years time after opening with massive debts.
Recommend? Yes 11 No 13
Jul 8, 19:58
Jul 8, 20:05
"Plans to create an arts centre have received celebrity backing from Barbara Dickson, Ian Rankin and Richard Jobson". Will these Labour supporting 'celebrities' be putting their hand in their pocket to ensure the council tax payers aren't out of pocket? Thought not!!!
Recommend? Yes 13 No 4
Jul 8, 20:14
As much as I think an artist studios plus indie cinema /cafe sounds nice , some questions that never seem to be asked:
Are the "artists" planning to buy or lease ?
If lease ,I assume FC is down money in a tiight financial situation,so affects us council taxpayers?
Do the "artists" have any money to put in to the project outwith any public contribution?
Do they have money to refurbish and what happens if it goes "tits up" ,revert to Council to try and flog it again ?
This group seems to be all about publicity rather than actual facts -send them to Dragons Den and see what real business folk rather than Alex "Promises" Rowley who seems not too concerned about Council finances.
Also, what do Alhambra and others who do not seem to get many favours think of this idea.at least Alhambra has a track record of delivering . Perhaps Dunfermline Press good do some research rather than printing headlines that this project is definitely happening .
Recommend? Yes 16 No 4
Jul 8, 21:26
Hi Vinoboy. You ask some very pertinent questions - about the political involvement in this project as well as the promoters - and no doubt they will be answered in due course. I was assuming that the idea was for the Council to sell the building in the same way as they've sold some other properties to community groups recently, but maybe you are right that it is a lease that is being proposed. That might even be a better idea, given that some of the potential restaurant promoters may be trying to buy the property on the cheap, which would not represent best value.
I also think it's a fair point about the Alhambra, which has sometimes seemed to succeed even despite Fife Council's best efforts. What the Alhambra also shows, though, is that there is a ready market for sometimes quite challenging art in Dunfermline. They've been smart in their programming and appear to have done a bit of cross-subsidy to bring, for example, the National Theatre for Scotland in on the back of other, unashamedly commercial, acts. Who is to say the Fire Station Creative team could not do the same in their area of expertise? Who's to say, indeed, that they might not be able to collaborate with the Alhambra somehow?
I would much rather this idea was given a go than folk just assuming it's not going to work without even trying. After all, in the Raploch in Stirling, there are now 400 kids playing musical instruments in orchestras. Four years ago, when the Sistema Scotland project kicked off there, there was only one. Who'd have thought that? You only have to have seen a couple of the interviews with local children and their parents on the BBC during the big concert there last month to see the positive effect that has already had on a community where decades of, no doubt, well-meaning social work and other public interventions appear to have had little effect. And, despite what some folk round here seem to think, Dunfermline is not the Raploch.
If this arts centre idea fails, then if there are enough restaurateurs eager to open up there, there should be no difficulty in selling it to one of them. But why not give it a chance first?
Recommend? Yes 13 No 9
Jul 9, 09:16
Y'know, if I was forced to be honest, I really don't care who buys the fire station, and what it's used for, so long as it doesn't wind up boarded up and derelict, and eventually burn to the ground like so many other buildings around the area have a habit of doing.
Recommend? Yes 21 No 1
Jul 9, 10:52
'Our wee city almost had its own arts centre, but in the end we opted for a mexican restaurant instead....we not all hicks, honest!'
There's no foresight in this town whatsoever. As much as I like food which has melted cheese on everything, another eatery is simply going to struggle. However, the arts centre would benefit Dunfermline in so many ways, not just financial, although in this financial climate where mixed-use developments are the only businesses that are staying ahead, the arts centre would be the better option.
Recommend? Yes 13 No 11
Jul 9, 11:35
Jul 9, 13:39
Well Grant, having a sustainable business in the city centre (I could stop here couldn't I mate) that supports and develops local talent and has ties to the local community through the College and other local business would be a good for a great number of reasons...
Foot-fall for the arts centre would be significantly higher than a restaurant due to opening hours and fact the it's mixed-use, so it would be much more beneficial for surrounding businesses. Town centres are dying because people can, and do, shop from home, you need other reasons to bring people into town, the number of other businesses that benefit from the people who come into town for the Alhambra can testify to that. The Arts centre has the capability to drawn people from even further afield.
Although you may not believe that artists exist, they do, and I think you underestimate how much money the creative industries can bring in. There's an awful lot of people who generate their own income. These people should be supported and encouraged, instead of being neglected and disparaged while the councillors bend over forwards for foreign companies that are kind enough to hand out menial short-term contact jobs. The number of people from Fife who are forced to rent studio space and workshops in Edinburgh is quite high, so it may be a smart idea to keep some of that money over here. There's nothing in to keep creative people in Dunfermline at the moment, Anstruther probably generates more money from creative industries that Dunfermline does.
All in all, its about balance and making Dunfermline a place that gets the best out of its people. Making and keeping money in the local economy.
So Grant, would you care to elaborate on the benefits that a mexican theme restaurant would bring to th city centre?
Recommend? Yes 18 No 6
Jul 9, 14:26
Thanks for your take on this ChuckD, however I still don't see it adding up. Perhaps we can agree to disagree on this one my friend?
Only time will tell, however for Liebour to offer what appears to be false hopes in hokey election 'promises' to gain votes is totally disgusting to say the least.
Maybe the Press could name these 'senior local Liebour sources' about their pre-elction commitments?
Perhaps also Clr Rowley could post a comment to clarify his true position regarding this?
I won't hold my breath...................................................................
Recommend? Yes 8 No 9
Jul 9, 20:30
ChuckD is spot on. Bit of culture or some fajitas?! If Dunfermline wants fajitas then the place is doomed.
Didn't the Foundry used to be a Mexican restaurant? Must be quite the appetite for it...hmm...
Recommend? Yes 8 No 3
Jul 10, 09:32
Jul 10, 13:12
Yes an art centre would be good but Dunfermline is not centralised like St. Andrews or Edinburgh. I doubt an art centre will be a commercial success but neither will a restaurant in such a site as there is no parking around the site until Tesco is open, unless you count the cars waiting in all the traffic lights around it. Tesco seems to be over 18 months away from opening.
Recommend? Yes 3 No 4
Jul 10, 15:12
Aye Aye Aye caramba.we have empty historic buildings in the 'city'...no matter what goes in the old fire station it will not fit with an abomination of a supermarket if it ever gets built..I am not concerned about my spelling ,education or what, what I do know is that I have done my bit!..Came here 40 years ago and have never seen such a demise in a place, having said that it is exactly the same as the place I was raised in. and you know why?...incompetant councils, and who put them there? me you.
So glad my family have seen sense and got out of this abomination of a 'city'
Recommend? Yes 3 No 3
Jul 11, 03:50
Noooooo! no more food places pls! Some guys have worked really, really hard for a very long time trying to make this an art centre!! Why doesnt anyone care anymore? This town sucks..oh am i repeating myself here?
Recommend? Yes 4 No 1
Jul 11, 10:01
There is no reason not to have a food place downstairs and an art centre upstairs. I do question the demand for both however. There are already several museums and spaces for art and saturation point with places to eat.
Recommend? Yes 3 No 2
Jul 11, 10:44
En primer lugar no hay ningún punto poner una galería de arte en Dunfermline, basta con ver en que nos habíamos ubicado detrás de los baños de la piscina... se trasladó a Edimburgo donde se agradece.
Un restaurante mexicano sería hermoso, especialmente agregar variedad un poco a la ciudad ocupada. Chiquito es demasiado ir para comer, y luego volver a la ciudad para bebidas, por lo que sería bien recibido con los brazos abiertos. Las personas necesitan obtener la cuchara de plata fuera de sus posaderas y dejar de ser ridículo, me imagino lucharían para el clavo de la Galería de arte y diente luego visitarla una vez hasta que se verían obligado a cerrar debido a la falta de interés.
Ser personas reales!
Recommend? Yes 2 No 3
Jul 11, 12:50
Jul 11, 14:33
Jul 11, 21:01
Put your rod away vino ;-)
It's not just art like painting, think about photography, martial arts and amateur dramatics. The Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Leith is probably more comparable to the Fire Station Creative Proposal. Been in a few times and it's great. A gallery area that also gets rented out for things like yoga, a separate room for putting on performances and a cracking wee cafe.
Recommend? Yes 0 No 0
Jul 11, 22:02
Char -I am not a complete ignoramus and would love to see some new creative blood blow the cobwebs of the stale arts/history sector(ho ho) in this city/town.
However..........would like to see some evidence of how this is going to be sustainable and part of me thinks if they cannot put forward a financial bid to buy the place ,it is not sustainable. Hope I am proved wrong and a financial backer is waiting to invest and folks with a business brain to run the place.
Maybe Mr Mexican from Bury should be approached with Arts to lease top floor from him for the studios and if that does well buy him out .
I like my sun dried tomato's as much as the next Dunfermline gadgie and used to draw the dole.boom boom.
Recommend? Yes 2 No 0
Jul 12, 02:10
Aug 27, 01:42
CAD (Contemporary Arts in Dunfermline) have been around in the town for a long time, www.thisiscad.org.uk .. We were situated in the Kingsgate bringing many arts and cultural events. All very welcomed and a great venue. We bought to Dunfermline the very 'First Fife Portrait Exhibition' that was held in the Kingsgate in April this year before we were forced to close both of our units to make way for a clothing store, plus many other wonderful exhibitions.. The Arts is very much a welcomed part of the the town and it should never be looked upon as a waste of time or space. Dunfermline has every right to be recognised as a Centre for Culture. St Andrews and Edinburgh already have enough money thrown at them in funding for the arts because it brings tourism, tourism brings money to the town. Dunfermline town already boasts an amazing history, though its history is of a mediaeval warring background. Lets start to introduce a non-violent culture too. History is created every day and in a hundred years from now what will be the information about this century then. Will it be the same story as it is now, 'The Bruce Years' or will there be something new for our future generations to learn about. Let it be through the Arts that we have something proud to write in the history books. Dunfermline's future is not just about its past though, it is about today, tomorrow and in years to come. Provide the children with something that is so very important in their lives. We teach them to talk, walk, dance and draw, clap hands when they are very young, then, we take away their cognitive skills. We give them charge up, hand held gadgets or the flat screen baby minders to keep them quiet. Please take this time to just watch this video by Ken Robinson, it is very amusing and also very informative of just how important ART is. http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
I along with many artists have given hundreds of hours to the town, all voluntary and dedicated to giving. Its been a challenge at times but always been rewarding. We have many visitors books available with 100% positive comments about the need for Arts in the town. There needs to be something other than a town full of foreign made or charity clothing stores, and surely, you want more than a mobile phone in life. Dunfermline has every right to flourish like the rest, after all it is the Gateway City to Fife ......Make it the Gateway City of Arts and Culture and don't lose the students of Carnegie to elsewhere. Thanks for listening.... Lainy Allison, CAD
Recommend? Yes 1 No 0