Mar 23 2012 Ayrshire Post (main ed)
THE DERELICT site of the former Bobby Jones could be in line for a multi-million pound renovation.
Seven years after it was gutted by fire, the building is being considered as a site for a centre of excellence for dance.
Ayr based Lianne Hackett is coordinating the ambitious project.
She revealed that award winning architect Malcolm Fraser and Morag Deyes, the artistic director of Scotland’s national centre for dance in Edinburgh, Dancebase, have already pledged their support.
And insists that she’s confident of raising the cash necessary to see the £5.5 million project through – but only if the building can be acquired for a song.
Lianne has a track record of pulling together the right skills and people necessary to get a project of this magnitude of the ground.
She was also chairman of Dancebase when it moved from tiny premises to the huge government support world class facility it is today.
Lianne explained: “It is a fantastic space, but does require a tremendous amount of work.
“There is a considerable amount of interest in the project from some very talented and well connected people.”
Bobby Jones took over the former Palais de Dance in 1935 and the dancehall attracted generations of young folk from across Scotland during its hey day.
The building is currently owned by three people, Ayr based businessman Charlie and Maxwell Taylor. Efforts to establish the whereabouts of the third owner have so far proved futile.
Lianne insists that aquisition of the building for a nominal sum is crucial if the project – which has also attracted the interest of Rob Close of the Ayrshire Architectural History Trust – is ever to get off the ground.
She said: “If we have to come up with a significant sum for the building then this just can’t happen. It’s key to making this work.”
Lianne proposes redeveloping the building’s old drill hall to create a massive studio. It will be used by dance companies across the country to prepare for high profile productions.
It will also be available for community groups as well commercial use.
The front of the building will house a mixture of offices and flats.
With the support of someone as influential as Morag – who was awarded an MBE for services to dance – securing the commitment of dance companies across the country to the project will be made significantly easier.
She added: “If we get that, then we stand a good chance of gaining funding.
“Having the support of someone like Malcolm Fraser is also really encouraging.
“He’s been behind a number of very successful projects and his interest in this project as part of a wider redevelopment of Ayr is very exciting.”
Lianne is also putting together a history of the Bobby’s and is keen to hear from anyone with pictures and stories.
You can contact her by email at email@example.com