Great Tapestry of Scotland

On Thursday 22nd December Scottish Borders Councillors voted for Galashiels as the new home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

It means a permanent visitor centre will be created in the Borders for the unique community arts project which has the potential to deliver ‘a successful tourism and regeneration proposition’.

The decision by Councillors to go with the former Post Office and Poundstretcher buildings in Galashiels as the site of the Tapestry also means the Scottish Government’s previous £2.5million funding pledge is confirmed.

Councillor David Parker, SBC’s Leader, said: “I am delighted such a nationally and internationally important arts project is coming to the Borders.

”Councillors were presented with a report that set out the details of a comprehensive due diligence process.

“That process has convinced the Scottish Government to provide £2.5m and we hope the proposal will benefit from enhanced support from a range of other funders.

“Notably, the proposal has a wide range of significant community support.

“The Galashiels option provides greater flexibility for educational and community uses within an affordable, deliverable and well located site.

“It means a world-class tourist attraction can be provided in this town centre location, close to the new Borders Railway and benefiting from excellent road links.

“I am delighted that Members from across the political spectrum have united to support the project today, particularly from some groups who were previously opposed.”

Councillor Stuart Bell, SBC’s Executive Member for Economic Development, added: “I am pleased we can now progress with the Great Tapestry of Scotland, which also has the backing of the Scottish Government.

“Today’s decision also means both SBC and the Scottish Government will be investing in a town centre in an effort to help the community to thrive, in line with the Government’s Town Centre First Principle.

“There has been plenty of discussion about the merits of the Tapestry, but there is evidence of real economic benefits from project, which was credited with quadrupling visitor numbers at a Dundee museum when it was displayed earlier this year.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: “I welcome today’s decision by Scottish Borders Council, which opens up the ambitious prospect of a new home for the Great Tapestry aligned with the broader tourism, regeneration and community benefits to Galashiels and beyond. The Scottish Government continues to earmark £2.5m for this project and I look forward to seeing progress with the next stages of its development.”

Co-Chairman of the Tapestry Trustees, Alistair Moffat added: “Feelings and opinions about the Great Tapestry of Scotland are sharply divided – not between like and dislike but between those who have seen this remarkable work of art and those who have not. No-one who sees its panels can fail to be moved, amused, intrigued and delighted by them. In only three years, it has become a national treasure.

“I have been in and around public life in Scotland for more than 40 years, from running the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to being Director of Programmes at Scottish Television, and the reactions of audiences have fascinated me in all that long time.

“I have never seen anything like the responses to the Great Tapestry of Scotland. People gaze at the panels, transported, smiling, often moved to tears and always, always enriched by the experience. Many come back again and again.

“When the Tapestry was launched in the Scottish Parliament in late 2013, I had never seen all of the panels hung in sequence and arriving early, I decided to walk around it by myself. It was an unforgettable experience, stunning in its intensity.

“I smiled at the fun and wept like a bairn at the beauty and the power of the thing. Inspired by Andrew Crummy, the women of Scotland poured love and care and immense passion into this work of art.

“To see this magnetic, wonderful object housed in Galashiels will fill me with pride as a Borderer and its popularity will help regenerate this once-great textile town.

“I congratulate Scottish Borders councillors for sharing this vision. It will be a splendid success.”

Since February 2016, SBC has been working in partnership with the Scottish Government, other partners in the Borders Railway Blueprint programme and the Great Tapestry of Scotland Trustees to consider the best location for housing the Tapestry in the region.

A new site in Galashiels emerged earlier in the year which was not available when the original assessment of the town was carried out, and significant work has since been undertaken to look at Galashiels in conjunction with the original Tweedbank site.

The due diligence process which was carried out concluded that: ‘The Galashiels option has the potential to deliver a successful tourism and regeneration proposition in a way that the Tweedbank option does not.

‘The Galashiels proposal provides the opportunity for additional education and community use that is not a feature of the Tweedbank proposal. Furthermore, the Galashiels site benefits from a significant degree of community support and is consistent with the Scottish Government’s Town Centre First Principle in relation to place-making and regeneration.’