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Portrait Gallery in the money

by Kirstyn Smith

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is due to close this Sunday after receiving a £4.5 million grant to go towards a long-awaited restoration.

The financial aid, awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), will help the gallery’s planned revamp which will cost, in total, approscottishnationalportraitgallery1ximately £17.6 million and follows a donation of £5.1 million from the Scottish Government. 

The renovation, which is estimated to last up to two and a half years, plans to double gallery space in an effort to increase visitor numbers.   A  dedicated education suite, auditorium, IT gallery and research centre will also be added. 

James Holloway, the gallery’s director, said: “We are delighted with the support from the HLF. Their confidence in the scheme is a terrific boost at this critical stage of the project.”

The program, called Portrait of the Nation, will increase the number of items displayed by 350%, allowing the gallery to display many more of its 30,000 portraits and photographs.

Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “New life will now be breathed into this beautiful historic building. Treasures that have been stored away for years will be brought out to showcase Scotland’s history through the portraits of those who shaped it.”

This weekend the gallery will host the Farewell Festival, two days of events for families and children as a way of marking the closure.

Literature and Laughs come to Glasgow

If you think you could use a good laugh or some relaxation after the miserable start to this year, then Glasgow is the place to be for festival fun this March, boasting both comedy and literature events in the coming weeks.

The Bank of Scotland Aye Write book festival launched this weekend and will continue until the 14th, while  Magners Glasgow International Comedy Festival will be tickling the nation’s funny-bone from the 12th – 29th. 

Attracting well-known names from each field, the festivals are promising to be bigger and better than previous years.  Now in its third year, the comedy festival has snared top acts such as Jimmy Carr, Rob Brydon and Ross Noble.  As for the literary side of things, the fourth year of Aye Write boasts Alan Bennett, Alexander McCall Smith and James Frey to be among the numerous authors regaling the crowds.

As the comedy festival is working alongside Homecoming Scotland 2009, which aims to highlight Scotland’s culture and to bring the country into a prolific level on the global scale. 

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer at EventScotland, the national events agency responsible for Homecoming Scotland is proud that the two events are working together:

“Glasgow’s International Comedy Festival has grown phenomenally over the past seven years to become one of the most well attended and highly acclaimed comedy festivals in the UK. This year the event forms an exciting part of our Homecoming programme and as such will be welcoming performers and audiences from around the world with an affinity for Scotland. I have no doubt that the event will be bigger and better than ever.”

As well as showcasing prolific authors from around the world, joining Aye Write, among many others, are Jackie Kay, Janice Galloway and  to fly the flag for Scotland’saye_write_114x114 homegrown literary talent.

The event also advertises school and family-related talks and activities.