The transformation and success of the MacArts Centre in the heart of Galashiels has played an integral role in bringing back the town’s lost beat.
“Music,” said Plato, “gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, fight to the imagination and life to everything.
MacArts is run by the Duncan MacKinnon Music and Arts Trust – a charitable organisation inspired by the visionary spirit of Dunc MacKinnon, a prominent Borders promoter who brought high profile acts to the Scottish Borders in the 1960s.
There’s a willingness to bring back those heady days.
The Trust was formed in December 2011 to fulfil an ambition to create a state-of-the-art theatre, music and arts venue in the former St Andrew’s Arts Centre, a disused listed building of historic and architectural significance in the centre of Galashiels.
Now known as MacArts, this multi-purpose venue hosts a diverse programme of live events from music and theatre to film and community events and has established itself as a stand-out venue in the Scottish Borders for touring artists.
In May 2020, GQ magazine listed MacArts as one of the four best small music venues in Scotland.
The work of the Duncan MacKinnon Music and Arts Trust at the MacArts is on-going.
The Trust has already made sufficient improvements to ensure the building offers a viable venue that is fully functional and open for business.
The beautiful former church has been converted and fully refurbished to create a vibrant, accessible, multi-purpose facility which Galashiels can be proud of.
The main hall is at ground floor level, offering an adaptable space which is used regularly for classes, workshops and rehearsals. It has a large raised stage area for performances and can be set up theatre style in rows, or cabaret style with tables and chairs and space for dancing.
There is also a large rear hall with mezzanine seating area and side wing access to the stage area offering a backstage facility for performances. The rear hall, which is also used as a pop up recording studio, is an ideal space for exhibitions, classes, workshops.
While the long-term viability of MacArts relies on its diverse mix of uses, with community and cultural facilities backed with sound commercial activities, the town centre venue is already enjoying success.
Hosting an eclectic programme of entertainment including established talent and up and coming bands, the MacArts and all that it offers is the town’s lifeblood; it has found the rhythm that Galashiels, traditionally a vibrant hub for live music and entertainment, had once lost.
The MacArts, alongside other local venues and attractions, provide cultural, educational, recreational, economic and social benefits to local communities and visitors.
In doing so, they’re more than venues; they have created Galashiels’ new beating heart.