Saturday’s art auction in Leith gallery AXO is the latest step in The Forrest artists’ collective’s energetic campaign to raise £50,000 by the end of May. “Ambitious,” says the Save the Forrest website, “but definitely achievable”.
And, after all, with the help of donations and a series of Roofraiser gigs, the fundraising total now stands at £25,000. The aim is to raise enough cash to buy the listed building in Bristo Place which has been home to the Forrest arts café for over ten years but is now up for sale since the owners became bankrupt last year.
The Forrest has its critics – “I would rather chew own ear off than come here again” is one of the more extreme comments found online – but the enterprise run entirely by volunteers has also inspired many more loyal and committed followers with a Facebook fanbase and almost 1,400 signatures on the epetition.
Sarah Wilson, is helping to swell funds by organising the Forrest art auction at her gallery AXO in Queen Charlotte Street, Leith. What’s more, local and international artists are donating their work for the sale which starts at 6pm on Saturday 14th May.
What they are all fighting to save is a space housing a unique combination of visual arts, live music, film screenings, studio space, dark room… and vegan food.
“The Forest Café is one of those rare organizations left whose purpose is not personal or financial gain, but benefiting a community and its relationship to the arts”, says Deborah Pearson co-director of the Forest Fringe Festival, “ The Forest Café has not only changed my life, but has helped change the landscape of theatre in the UK.”
Or, as the List puts it: “it’s a comfort to know there are still a few scruffy, independent and idiosyncratic hang-outs like The Forest left in town.”
For all those reasons, and more, the campaign is well worth supporting. You can see a preview of art donated for the auction at AXO gallery on Friday 13th from 7-10pm. Or browse a wide range of works on the Save the Forest blog by clicking here. And sign the petition by clicking here.
The Forrest has been running the fundraising campaign since the Edinburgh Student Settlement which owns the building, were forced into administration in October 2010.