Edinburgh arts space The Forest under threat after landlord's bankruptcy

Volunteer-run space raising money to buy building

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Edinburgh arts space The Forest under threat after landlord's bankruptcy

The collapse of the Edinburgh University Settlement charity has forced the closure of the Roxy Art House and put the Forest Café in jeopardy. Locals must fight for The Forest to stay open, argues long-term venue organiser Ryan Van Winkle

It’s important not to be fatalistic about these things, because nothing ever really ends; yet, the potential loss of the Forest Café and the Roxy could be a big setback for the vibrant underground music and arts scene scene in the capital. In terms of music, in the last two or three years people had stopped seeing Edinburgh as a second rate scene to Glasgow, and I’m proud that The Forest – and places like it – helped that shift.

So, we’re fighting to keep our building: which means raising half a million pounds and buying it. We’ve done a lot of crazy things over the years already – even just creating a free space where friends, performers, writers and musicians could play and dream, without ever thinking about money, was pretty crazy in the first place. I feel a community space is everybody’s responsibility and a lot of people have agreed. We’ve been very lucky over the last ten years to work with thousands of amazing volunteers, artists and activists who have donated the only thing we’ve ever asked for – time. Unfortunately, now we need to take that further. If 5000 people give us £100 each, we’d have enough money to buy the building outright and to stay fiercely independent, open to all and could continue the work we love doing.

Our ethos at the Forest is has always been to try and say ‘yes’ as much as possible. We have tried to facilitate all the projects that we can – we’ve helped people make books, records, an award-winning theatre Fringe, we’ve hosted hundreds of free workshops, events, parties, art openings and given away loads of personal grants for random art and community projects. It has been a joy for us and, hopefully, for a lot of others as well.

It’s difficult to say what the future holds – again, things have happened before us and things will happen after us. People do stuff, even in Edinburgh – a pretty expensive and difficult place to make action happen. Edinburgh has a rich history of places like Cafe Graffiti, The Bongo Club, Susie’s Diner and many, many more. Roxy and The Forest will be part of that history, whether we manage to survive or not. I hope we will. I hope people will see our space as valuable and will understand how amazing it would be for The Forest to be where it is, doing what it is doing, for future generations in perpetuity. This is crazy. But not impossible. Please give what you can so others can take what they need.

For more go to forestcafe.tumblr.com

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