The Dunsland Project

Pros and Cons


Dunsland was in an area that had poor access to the arts – a fact that Leonard Elmhirst himself recognised. This would have made it attractive to SWA, ACE and other trusts and foundations. ACE had already approved a grant of £75,000 for a Feasibility Study and SWA had given it strong support.

Had the building been scheduled to open in 2000, it might have secured funding from the Millennium Commission as a ‘landmark capital project’ and been able to apply to the first round of the Arts Capital Programme (ACP) which began in 1995.

After the demolition of the old House, the site meant that there was flexibility to create a new building of any size, according to the budget available. A new two storey building on the footprint of the old House would have cost around £5 million in 2000, but a single storey building could have cost half that amount.

The Estate was owned by the National Trust; a powerful advocate for cultural activities who would most likely have helped to publicise CCANW at Dunsland through its national and international networks.

It had the strong support of the District Council, as well as business and tourism organisations who saw its potential in increasing employment possibilities and increasing tourism.


The most serious disadvantage of the site was that many in the local community were suspicious of an initiative led by an ‘outsider’ and even chose to oppose the starting of a Feasibility Study. In hindsight, the community might have been supportive if they had become involved before funding for the Study was applied for.

Attracting paying visitors to Dunsland would have been an up-hill struggle, being well away from major roads, tourist areas and with poor public transport. Had the Study gone ahead, there was always the possibility that the business case would be unviable.

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