For the uninitiated (and you're missing a treat), The Forest is the umbrella name for a collective of incredible individuals based in Edinburgh. Hosting a plethora of fun and unusual arts events for free and serving delicious vegetarian food in the Forest Cafe, which is run by volunteers, these guys work their socks off to provide a welcoming ecosystem of arts and culture, promoting the interesting and offbeat and keeping creativity alive in these snip-snip-riddled times.
Here are just some of the things going on at the Cafe: art exhibitions, music nights, poetry, workshops, haircuts and booze (together!), a record label and independent prose and poetry press with lovely handmade pamphlets and games galore!
We have personal reasons for loving the Forest. They gave Fuselit a grant to buy our first laser printer, leading to the more interesting look the magazine sports these days, as well as giving us a grand launch for our Nude issue a few years back, and we're heading back this month on (I think) the 17th November to do an event (more details to come) with a cavalcade of quickfire poetry alongside regular poetryfest The Golden Hour, helmed by Forest stalwart and Crashaw Prize-winner Ryan Van Winkle, who'll be launching his debut collection from Salt. And that's just one of the huge list of shenanigans coming up at Bristo Place.
It's a scary thought that all this fine work might have to come to an end. Here's the situation in their own words:
The Forest has provided a free arts and events space for over a decade and we’ve never asked you to pay to play or to pay to view. We are the only truly autonomous arts and cultural space in Edinburgh and have hosted thousands of free events, exhibitions and straight-up parties. If you don’t know what we do, or have done, you can look at this website. Now, we are in the unique position to either buy our building or fold. All we need to do is raise £500,000. If all our friends and friends of friends donate only £10 — you will have a space in Edinburgh’s historic centre forever. Well, forever is a long time, but for a long time. As long as people are interested in open source community arts spaces. You’ve been directed here by one of your friends because they love this space for good reason. It has nurtured many a soul. Please help us exist for as long as we can by donating just £10 if you’ve been to a free event here. Less if you just like the idea and more if you really really love us.
In a nutshell, there it is. It's not a great deal of money if everybody chips in, but it will mean that one of Edinburgh's most community-spirited entrepreneurial arts venues stays open to foster the excitement and pleasure that such a marvellous city and its guests can bring.
You can donate here safely and securely via Paypal, or by credit/debit card. Go on - if you do, I promise not to make any poet-tree puns (oops). Well hell, donate anyway for your love of arts!
Find out more about The Forest at www.theforest.org.uk and www.theforest.org.uk