We are delighted to be expanding our arts programming in the coming year, to celebrate more local and Scottish artists.
Our not-for-profit status is important to us, with our café, gift shop and commercial use of the meeting spaces allowing us to deliver our dynamic arts and community programmes.
From our start in 1880 as a community facility for 'education and enterntainment', led by local stationmaster John Kinnaird, to the present day, the people of Birnam and Dunkeld – and those who've visited the area – have been involved in the life of Birnam Arts.
From the initial efforts of fundraising towards building costs, with the help of many visitors to the area who were travelling to their villas and lodges, to our present corporate partners and local supporters, the building and programmes have evolved to support artists, residents and visitors to the region.
The original building has been used as a library and reading room, hall, refreshment and games room, caretaker's accommodation, billets for troops in World Wars I, a movie hall, and a theatre for the entertainment of troops during World War II.
In the 1990s it was understood that it no longer met building regulations. A series of public consultations, feasibility studies, proposals, and plans were created, offering a refurbishment and extension project to give new life to the then-named Birnam Institute.
Funding of nearly £2,000,000 for the proposed building works took around three years to assemble. As well as the many members of the community and the Dunkeld Village Hall Fund, we were supported through grants from the Scottish Arts Lottery, the European Regional Development Fund, the Millennium’s 21st Century Halls for Scotland, The Gannochy Trust, Perth and Kinross Council, Scottish Enterprise Tayside, and The Carnegie Trust.
A partnership was established between the Birnam Institute, Macmon Chartered Architects and the local community, to provide a design that was both sensitive to and respectful of the conservation area of Birnam, and that offered a contemporary quality and vitality for years to come. With an agreed design, work started in February 2000 and was completed in June 2001. The building then went on to achieve a Dynamic Place Award in 2001 and a Civic Trust Award in 2003.
In September 2011, a change to the consitution led to a legal requirement to a change of name, from The Birnam Institute to Birnam Arts. To this day, many locals still refer to the building – and many of our activities – as The Institute, and probably always will.
While there have been various changes in name, as an organisation, what remains at out heart is the people in our different communities. Our work continues to be to provide a place that is welcoming – that inspires each of us to be creative, be inspired, and to think differently.
Performing Arts Programming & Development Manager
Visual Arts Programming & Development Manager
Gift Shop Manager
Head of Accounts & Finance
Communications & Marketing Manager
We could not function without our team of more than 50 incredible volunteers. From the Box Office to the Gift Shop and Beatrix Potter exhibition, our dedicated team of volunteers work with us to welcome the public, sell tickets, artworks and Shop items.
From time to time we need to boost the group of volunteers, and now is such a time. As the days warm up, we are working towards expanding our hours from five days a week to seven days a week, and therefore are looking for a few more good people.
Birnam Arts is a community owned and run facility with charitable status. Our two core aims are:
As a not-for-profit organisation, any profit made from our areas of business – café, gift shop or conferences – goes back into our arts and community programmes. We thank all our customers, as they really do help benefit our vibrant local community.
If you would like to know more about our organisation, you can read our constitution here: Birnam Arts Constitution
We are incredibly thankful for the support of our important funding partners, without whom we wouldn’t be able to maintain and update our beautiful building and continue to offer a strong range of activities.
Their funding allows us to keep expanding how we deliver on the two goals of Birnam Arts. They allow us to expand our programming in the visual and performing arts for the people of Perthshire, and to keep Birnam Arts relevant in the competitive world of business meetings, which in turn supports our community and arts programming.
We are thankful for the support of Rural Perth & Kinross Leader Programme 2014-2020 through the The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas, for assistance with the revamp of our Box Office.
It is clear that funding support for charities comes in many shapes and sizes, and our community members are not just those who live in the nearby area but many who live and work across much of Perthshire.
Over the past two years, Aberfeldy-based Macintyre Wealth Management have included Birnam Arts as a recipient of one of their 12 days of Christmas gifts. In 2020, the gift was a new ballet barre, which has gratefully been used throughout the past months through our students of all ages.
The funding in 2021 has provided a new guillotine, which will be used by visiting artists with the production of zines and booklets. Staff will also have a chance to use it for things such as workshop preparation, the production of activity sheets for Beatrix Potter, as well as inhouse creation of posters for upcoming events and exhibitions.
Support is also underway through the crowdfunding activities of 12-year-old Rose Cave, who is currently holding a challenge that has already surpassed her target and first stretch goal, with a few weeks yet to go.
We also know that our funding angels don’t only live in the corporate world.
In October 2020 the Birnam Arts team took on the challenging task of trying to raise funds to keep the doors open after the first year of the Covid pandemic. The incredible outpouring by those who know, and love Birnam Arts was humbling, and continues to inspire us.
Still, more than a year on, Covid continues to impact Birnam Arts … but there are lots of ways you can still support us!
Visiting is the easiest and best way you can support us right now. We invite you to enjoy the latest exhibition in the mezzanine Gallery, linger in our café and taste the delicious treats prepared by new Chef Alex and long-time staff member and baker extraordinaire Sandra, and discover the new ideas in our gift shop or learn something new about Beatrix Potter.
And finally, if you are in a position to donate or you would like to donate on someone's behalf in place of a gift, you can do this by heading to our Crowdfunder page – still live! Through GiftAid, you can help us even more.
Every £10,000 we raise provides an additional month of basic running costs to the building. Until normal business can resume with conferencing and catering, these continue to be strange and financially difficult times, so every £, $, € or ¥ pledged goes towards securing and improving the future of this much-loved arts venue.
Such lovely memories of coming to Birnam as a wee one, visiting the garden and the exhibition then exploring the woods that inspired Beatrix Potter.
Graham Webster | Crowdfunder #savebirnamarts 2020
One of the most wonderful weekends of my life. Thanks to all at the Birnam Book Festival, Guest of Honour, author and musician.
Peggy Seeger | Birnam Book Festival 2018