Published 12 February 2021

Funding to bring a former church in Alexandria back to life as an arts and creative venue has been awarded to West Dunbartonshire Council.

The £750,000 grant from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund will go towards plans to transform the B-Listed former St Andrew’s Church, creating studios, workshops, training space, event and exhibition areas and a cafe.

The creation of Viresco Studios and Arts Centre, which is being led by local charity Viresco Studios SCIO in partnership with the Council, will encourage wider participation in the arts, creative enterprises and cultural activity in the area.

The workshop areas will focus on micro manufacturing of materials like wood and textiles, with the aim of encouraging startups to make use of the space.

 Seven artists’ studios will be created in addition to recreational space which will give local residents the opportunity to  participate in  creative activities and supporting people to access the wider creative industries sector, with particular emphasis on developing the young workforce through work placements and experience.

The venue will also have a training kitchen focussed on using local food producers and growers and organising bespoke dining experiences.

The interior will include bespoke furniture and features designed and manufactured by local artists and craftspeople, all inspired by local history and heritage.

The programme will also engage local residents, offering them the opportunity to work alongside artists to bring their own designs to life.

Alongside the award from the RCGF, Creative Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland will be asked to part-fund the project.

The building , which closed as a place of worship in 1995, has been derelict since 2012.

Councillor Iain McLaren, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development said: “This building has long been a focal point and landmark in Alexandria and bringing it back into use as a venue which will offer  so much to the community is a wonderful idea.

“I’m sure that Viresco Studios will be an invaluable resource for local residents and also attract visitors to the area, benefitting the whole town centre.

“Alexandria has a rich history in the textiles industry and I’m pleased this facility will provide the resource for local people to become involved with it in the future.

“I look forward to seeing this project progress.”

The proposed development will bring an initial investment of £1m to Alexandria for the restoration, with an estimated £250,000 to be invested in the next five years.

Up to 20 jobs will be created through the building works.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “The Regeneration Capital Grant Fund is all about enhancing communities by delivering new or refurbished buildings for local people, and this former church will be a fantastic accessible space for wider participation in a range of arts and creative activities.

 “Alongside COSLA we are delivering a further £25 million of investment this year to 26 new projects across Scotland and I am pleased that Alexandria will benefit from a share of this funding.”