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The Right Way to Spend A Pony

or Why I want £22 of your money. Right now.

In October last year Edinburgh University Settlement, who owned the building that The Forest occupied at 3 Bristo Place, were declared bankrupt and forced into administration. The administrators put the property on the market and are currently trying to sell it. As part of that process, they terminated the Forest’s lease, giving them six months notice. Their last day was Wednesday 31 August. It’s been empty now for twenty days, but that isn’t the end.

The Forest is a big part of this city, it’s a free arts space in Edinburgh and it’s always been good to me. Sure, it’s full of vegetarians and people with dreadlocks (some people don’t like steak and combs, who knew?) but it’s a publisher, a disco and after the closure of the Roxy Art House it’s all we’ve got to stem the tide of faceless corporate pubs and expensive empty conference centres dominating the future of music, literature and community spirit.

They don’t want to leave their home of eight years in a listed historic building, so they’ve launched an appeal and they have managed to raise well over £30,000 so far.

Maybe you’re a Forest fan that is directly affected or maybe you’re an ex-pat who loves Edinburgh, whatever the reason you should help buy the Forest because right here, in 2011, with all the s**t that’s going on is an opportunity to make a difference to the arts scene.

Ryan Van Winkle, who’s one of the brains behind the campaign (and literary pistolero to some, Spanish language Bruce Campbell to others) had this to say:

“We are in a pretty amazing time right now — a decade ago no one would ever have thought it possible to raise £70k in one month but thanks to the wide reach of the Forest, the massive tentacles of the internet, and thanks to sites like ‘WeFund’ where you pledge and don’t pay unless the campaign is successful — I actually think we have a shot.”

The pledge system will only take your money if they reach the target, so in essence it won’t cost you anything unless the Forest hit their target, and if they do then you will have taken part in an amazing venture! If you need any more encouragement, take a look here.

But what if they fail? What if I only donated a tenner? I thought you wanted twenty quid?

Good question(s), and the answer is simple. I want you to put your hand in your pocket for The West Port Book Festival as well. They run an awesome free book festival for the last three years and they are doing it again, come hell or high water, and you can make the difference to this adventure too. They want it to stay free, and when you consider the line-up of year’ past and that a ticket for one event for the Edinburgh International Book Festival costs £10 by itself, a tenner for a whole festival of delights is a total bargain!

Edinburgh is the home of artistic endeavour in Scotland, let’s help keep it that way. All I’m asking is for £20, you’d spend that in the pub in one night. If you spend it today on these worthwhile projects you will be making an impact that will last for a very, very long time.

Now that you’ve waded through all of that, if you’re still with me, I shall reward you with news of a poetry competition worth £2,500 – the Fifth Annual Troubadour International Poetry Prize – which costs £5 to enter. If you do win, I’ve some ideas about where you could invest the money…

The West Port Book Festival will run from the 13th-16th October 2011 and full details of the programme will be available here tomorrow.

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