Peacock Visual Arts in partnership with the city’s arts education and arts development teams have put forward a proposal for a new ‘iconic’ building in Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens. Last Wednesday Aberdeen City Council gave their backing in principal to the project. The project would see part of Union Terrace Gardens leased for a nominal fee to Peacock Visual Arts, and a new arts centre constructed on the site.
Aberdeen City Council could end up lending as much as £3m to the project. Peacock will be awarded £50,000 to aid its development. The funding is expected to be more or less matched by the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Enterprise Grampian. The development is subject to the production of a business plan and the granting of all relevant permissions.
The scheme would house Peacock Visual Arts, the council’s arts development and education departments.
Lindsay Gordon, director of Peacock Visual Arts, described the plans as a “fantastic” opportunity to showcase the arts and to regenerate the garden at the same time. He said Peacock was delighted to be part of the project, which he hoped would become a focal point of the city, where people would come and socialise. He said: “The innovative design of the structure would not ruin the vista but enhance it and attract visitors to the area.” He also emphasized that the environmentally friendly building, which would harness geo-thermal and solar energy to heat it, would largely be built underground and be no higher than the height of the existing wall along Union Terrace. “The architects, Brisac Gonzalez, have been very clever and innovative with the design and this building will open the gardens up.”
The council hopes to create a thriving cultural quarter in the area, with the Art Gallery and His Majesty’s Theatre both nearby.
Following the meeting on Wednesday, sports and culture spokeswoman Councillor Jennifer Stewart said: “This is a hugely exciting project that can be a focus for the arts in Aberdeen and generate the kind of buzz that everyone in the city is looking for.”
“I don’t think you can overestimate the positive cultural and economic impact a centre for contemporary arts could have in Aberdeen and across the region. Anyone who has seen the benefits that other cities have found through this kind of project will know that we’re not talking about something elitist, but a real asset for every single community.”
Local councillors for the area welcomed the announcement. Bill Cormie of SNP said: “This is a project that will be a fantastic attraction and a huge asset to Scotland, to the north-east and to Aberdeen but also to the community.”
Labour councillor Jim Hunter added: “I am really happy that the council has found the money for the project to be taken on to the next step.”