Save The Forest

Courtesy of zzathras777 via Flickr

By Rachael Etheridge

The Forest, a volunteer run not-for-profit arts and events space, is trying to raise £500,000 to buy the building it is situated in, after the Edinburgh University Settlement has gone bankrupt.

The EUS, which previously owned the now closed down Roxy Art House, has put the Bristo Place church on the market. Chris Palmer, The Forest’s building manager said:

“It provides an alternative space, a sort of DIY concept, for shows, music and arts in Edinburgh. It acts as a meeting point for an opportunity for those to express themselves in Edinburgh which unlike somewhere like Berlin, the city is culturally conservative.”

The Forest, which is also a vegetarian cafe, has been an integral part of Edinburgh’s arts life for over 10 years. Mr Palmer continued:

“It’s a volunteer run venue. People can just turn up and help out with shows or in the kitchen for example. It’s an important part of Edinburgh, especially as so many students live here.”

Customer and fan of the venue Diane Jackson said:

“It’s a really good venue because its free. Everyone who works there volunteers, so they all want to be there. It’s in a great location and you meet some really interesting people. It would be a shame to lose it – there is nowhere else like it in the city.”

In light of the EUS’s bankruptcy, a Facebook campaign has been set up in order to raise money for the keeping of The Forest. The fundraiser, under the name ‘Save The Forest’, urges 50,000 people to donate £10, or 5000 to donate £100. Mr Palmer said:

“We – staff and volunteers – actually set up the Facebook campaign. It was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to the Roxy Art House closing down and the EUS going into administration. We’re pretty confident we can create an economically sound business plan, but it’s about getting people on board.”

The Forest is also hoping that small business will make more sizable donations to the fund. Donations, which are to be made either directly from a bank account, or into The Forest’s Pay-Pal account, are causing some problems as those donating want to make sure the money is definitely going to the cause. Mr Palmer said in response:

“The Pay-Pal account is being monitored by us – we’re keeping tabs on it. It’s the same as donating to any other charity.”

Miss Jackson said on the matter:

“When I first saw the campaign, I thought it was amazing. But it should be made more transparent, for those donating to feel more comfortable about it.”

Finally, Mr Palmer said:

“We do need to show that its economically sound to buy the building, or find somewhere new to re-house. We’ve already raised £5000 in a week.

“People can get involved – we have an open meeting set up on Sunday 14th November at 6pm.”