Here is a revised faq I did a few weeks ago due to the other one being a bit too long. I don't think it ever made it onto the site.
Q: Why does Forest need my help?
A: We run a successful business and charity, which is not-for-profit. It’s important to note, that we DO make a profit, and we DO pay rent. The trouble is, it’s not quite enough to just buy the building right now. That’s why we need your help!
Q: Why £500,000? Isn’t that a bit low?
A: We believe this substantial sum will be enough to secure the building for us and feel strongly that with community support we could buy the building outright. This would be amazing! However, we do need time to gather funds and hope others will work with us to get an appropriate bid in. If you can help with legal or business advice, please contact us.
Q: Why is the building being sold in the first place?
Our landlords, the century-old charity known as The Edinburgh University Settlement were forced to declare bankruptcy due to insolvency. To pay off debt, they are selling their properties which include The Roxy, The GRV and other smaller premises.
Q: Is the sum not much more now that Forest will have to buy off the liquidators for EUS?
No. The Forest was a tenant of the EUS. As lease-holders we have no responsibility to buy off or pay for any EUS debts.
Q: What will you do with the money if you do not end up buying the building?
We will use all funds to continue the project. As well as looking into the purchase of 3 Bristo Place, we are also actively looking for alternative appropriate property throughout Edinburgh, to buy or to rent. If you know of (or own) an available space, please get in touch.
If, for some reason the whole thing fails, the project folds, and we are unable to continue existing physically, there would still be off-shoot projects which we would like to continue. There are groups which have grown up within the Forest, such as Forest Fringe, Forest Publications, Forest Records and Total Kunst, which could continue to support the arts without the physical cafe existing. There are Forest-inspired spaces in Portugal, Switzerland and South Korea which we could help. If it really came to it, there are also similar struggling community spaces throughout the UK such as The Cube (Bristol), The Cowley Club (Brighton), Star and Shadow (Newcastle) and The Basement (Manchester). There is no shortage of wonderful projects and spaces to support. However, we have not made any firm decisions on this outcome, as we are confident we have the ability to get together the funds and the volunteer power to continue the Forest.
Q: Can I donate less / more?
Of course. A £100 donation from just 5,000 people nets us £500,000. However, if you only have £10 or £1, we’d greatly appreciate any assistance. If you have a large sum you’d like to donate, that would be amazing. The reason we’re asking for a moderate donation of £10 - £100 is because we want our friends to feel able to help, to feel they have ownership of the project. Which (in case you didn’t know) you always have done on every level – from what ingredients to use in a sandwich, to what free workshops we have, to what events happen, to what art is in the gallery. Anyone who visits Forest, or volunteers here, has the potential to get more involved.
Q: Who would own it / manage it?
Ideally, The Forest charity would buy and own the property. Our aim is to continue the project in the same successful, open way it has been run for years. This means no one person or group of people would take ownership.
Structurally, as a charity we are run by a Board of Trustees elected by ‘members’. Nobody on the Board owns or profits from The Forest. Anyone who wants to become more involved can do – for free – by attending meetings, joining our open bulletin board and investing their time. It is time, conversation and action which has always determined how the Forest actually runs, and that is how we’d like things to remain.
Q: What about a Pledge Bank?
We like to think we’ve earned your trust enough for you believe that whatever happens, your money will be used to keep the Forest’s spirit alive. The truth is, no matter the outcome of the sale of Bristo Place, we’ll need money to move, buy another building or pay rent and work out a business model for running a new, similar space.
However, if you are considering investing a large sum (say, over £10,000) on the basis of us actually being able to buy the building, then get in touch. We’ll work something out.
Q: Are you sure PayPal is the best way to raise funds?
We are in the process of starting a Just Giving account which will be easier for people to donate larger sums and will take advantage of the Gift Aid scheme. We understand that some people may not be comfortable using Paypal but we feel it is important to have some way for people to make a donation immediately. We have also added our bank details to the site if you wish to make a direct transfer.
Q: I’ve never been to Forest. Why should I help?
If you are on this page, maybe someone you care about suggested you do. And you respect their opinion and we sound pretty ok.
Of course, it would be great if art and community projects could exist without ever needing any help. We’ve existed for a decade on the sheer enthusiasm and effort of thousands of hard-working and generous, committed volunteers. That has been enough for a long time and we’re eternally grateful for all the help. People commit to Forest because they recognize that it is essential to have a space which encourages young artists and activists, that supports people who are disenfranchised and struggling. In this world there simply must be an alternative to Costa, Starbucks, and cookie-cutter art galleries who only expose the work of the already successful. We need a space where theatre can be truly fringe, where people, free of charge, can gain access to art, culture, skill-sharing and other like-minded individuals.
The Forest is a space for people to meet and work together on common goals. We don’t define those goals, they happen organically and often they are very inspirational. We make magazines, books and records, we promote and support the work of thousands of people from all over the world, of all ages. We are a free and open space in a city that is getting ever more private, closed and expensive.
The Forest hopes to (and does) inspire people around the world to found and continue similar projects. We have seen friends start their own venues in Portugal, Switzerland, Berlin, and South Korea. The loss of this space, as a symbol to others, would be a tragedy. For a decade we have helped people believe that another way is possible, that there is a way to exist and live that does not have to be corporate, conformist, neat, easy, safe or soul-destroying. Every day there is a new Subway sandwich shop, a new McDonalds, a new GAP. For a decade we have stood apart from this.
If you believe that spaces of art, activity and social community are important, please, help us stay alive. We’ll be here when you visit, when your kids visit, when your band tours, when you need a good space in a hectic Fringe to check your email and get away from the desperate, flyering masses. Please, please, show your love and commitment by making a donation you feel is appropriate.
Thanks. We love you!
The Forest x