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Campaigners are fighting to save the Forest Café. Photo: Ian Georgeson

Musicians pitch in with Forest Café fundraiser

[Above: Campaigners are fighting to save the Forest Café. Photo: Ian Georgeson]

Words: Billy Hamilton

If you’ve been reading the arts (or news) section of your local newpaper following the capital's blogosphere recently, you’ll have noticed there’s an Edinburgh University Settlement (EUS)-shaped hole in Edinburgh’s creative core.

Sunk by a gunshot of debts topping £4m, the charity’s demise signalled the end of the Roxy Art House, an immaculate cultural space that was growing into one of the city’s most intriguing venues. And, with the ‘For Sale’ sign nailed to its facade, arts hangout the Forest Café looks set to be the next victim of the EUS financial mismanagement.

Priced at just £500,000, the property developers have been circling with deathly intent; after all, the Forest is a prime location edifice in the heart of Edinburgh’s student quarter. Today the campaign to preserve the venue received a major boost as it was reported that one developer had withdrawn its plans to convert the venue into a variety of bedsits, flats and business space.

But this is just the first success in what is likely to be a long struggle for survival, and after ten years running one of the city’s most popular free arts spaces, the venue’s devoted clientele are amassing their defence. Led by a dedicated following of internet-savvy campaigners, dubbed Friends of the Forest, the move to buy this much loved venue is gaining traction. So far, almost £9,000 has been raised to save the Forest. Not much, sure, but every revolution had to start somewhere.

The campaign continues this Friday (3 Dec), when a weighty collection of musicians - including Aaron Wright & The Aprils, William Douglas, Hailey Beavis, The Veils’ Finn Andrews and a slew of special guests - are taking to the stage of Edinburgh’s Pilrig St Paul’s Church to help raise money to save the Forest Café

With an acute focus on acoustic guitar-wielding troubadours, you can expect to hear the clang of 1960s protest songs ringing around the church’s rafters. And, of course, all proceeds from the night end up in the coffers of the Save the Forest fund – so what better way to kickstart the festive season of giving?

Event organiser Ericka Duffy said of the event:

“The night is about the music community in Edinburgh coming together to help save the Forest Cafe for future generations of musicians. The musicians have generously donated their time and talent to ensure the next people who come along will have a welcoming, inclusive, free space.

“Each of these musicians play professionally, they are paid to play, yet they are still investing in a free, open space for musicians who are just starting out, who are finding their feet, gaining some confidence, who can use the Forest Cafe's practice space, or throw their first gig, for free.

“It is truly a community coming together to help save an institution in Edinburgh… This is what a music community ideally should be like; musicians coming together for other musicians.”

Save the Forest starts at 7.30 pm in Edinburgh's Pilrig St Paul's Church. Tickets cost £8 and all proceeds go to the Save the Forest campaign.

Find out how you can donate to the Save the Forest campaign

Posted by Billy Hamilton

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