Two and a half years ago, Oban’s former Rockfield school teetered on the brink of demolition. Now, it’s within a midge’s whisker of transformation into a bright, modern, cultural community hub.
The journey has been a surprisingly quick one considering the size of the fundraising challenge and the small Oban Communities Trust team has raised almost £2 million in that time.
The final push is a community share offer, giving everyone a chance to invest in the future of The Rockfield Centre. Refurbishment will then start in December 2018.
Already a thriving part of the community
Since the Trust took ownership in May 2015, 24,000 people have attended events and activities at The Rockfield Centre, volunteers have donated 10,767 hours of their time and the centre has hosted 31 public heritage events, 58 public arts events and 32 creative workshops. In addition, local trades have donated £127,000 of services in kind.
The outbuildings have seen Blether Sessions, a Friendship Club, kids activities and open mic nights, Scratch Choir and music sessions, yoga and mindfulness, a community charity shop, heritage events, exhibitions and sewing classes. The OCT team has also developed a heritage walking trail, a children’s play map of Oban and archive footage of various Oban histories.
What the new building will offer
At the first meeting in the Phoenix Cinema two and half years ago, the community identified four key themes for the Rockfield Centre: Education and Enterprise
Arts and Culture
History and Heritage
Since then the community huts have offered a range of activities and meeting space to fulfil these aims.
You will enter the building through the door on the right hand end to be welcomed by the creative buzz of the cafe reception area, selling and exhibiting the work of local artists and craftspeople, some of whom will work in the building.
Once inside you’ll notice the feel of an inclusive, friendly community with a wide cross-section of people using the public areas of the all-weather children’s heritage attraction, canteen and gallery shop.
You’ll see locals and visitors using free WiFi, artists in overalls bustling about, sole-traders and business people using the shared workspaces, and locals meeting for a chat. There will be art exhibitions, adverts for evening classes, meetups, live performances, parties, whisky tastings and more.
How the final £400,000 will be raised
Gordon McNab, chairman of OCT explained: “We need £2.6 million to restore the building and have already secured the bulk of the money from grants. We are so near the finish line – we only need to raise the last £400,000 from our community share offer to get the centre refurbished and the lights on.”
Since 2009, almost 120,000 people have invested over £100m in community share offers to support 350 community businesses throughout the UK.
Gordon went on to say “Community shares are a social investment which is really special – as well as supporting your community, you will be eligible for a return on your investment, possible tax benefits and the chance to get your money back at some future time. “
“Our shares will be priced at £1 each with a minimum purchase of £250. Each shareholder will have one vote only – so it doesn’t matter if you buy one or a thousand shares– you will still have one vote which keeps everyone the same. And for those who want to buy in but £250 is too much there will be other ways in which to come onboard and still be part of the centre.”
“Community shares are about you and what you and your family will get from The Rockfield Centre as well as the benefits the centre will bring to Oban and the wider area. As well as the social benefits there is a strong economic benefit to everyone in the area – more destination activities in Oban will mean more visitors staying and spending in our town, filling bed spaces, food outlets and other visitor attractions. It’s a win-win all round.”
How you can help
To find out more about how to invest in the future of your community, visit The Rockfield Centre page at www.therockfieldcentre.co.uk come into The Rockfield Centre or call 07483 308 142.