10,000 sign bid to save Picture House music venue

The Picture House in Lothian Road: Picture: contributed
The Picture House in Lothian Road: Picture: contributed
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A PETITION to keep the Capital’s Picture House as a live music venue has attracted 10,000 signatures in just one weekend.

The online opposition to plans to transform the popular music spot into a JD Wetherspoon pub has generated a huge response from disgruntled music fans – as well as Scots artists including Frightened Rabbit.

Callum Mouat, 22, a bar supervisor at the Lothian Road venue, took action after learning it had been sold to the pub giant, which he claims will tarnish Edinburgh’s music scene.

The drummer, who hoped to play there with his band, The Winter Tradition, said he was buoyed by the overwhelming response – supported by a host of musicians such as Frank Turner, Nina Nesbitt and BBC Radio Scotland presenter Vic Galloway.

“I can’t believe it, it’s had an incredible response. When I started it I thought it might get a few hundred supporters,” he said.

“I’m going to wait until Wetherspoons puts in building permission, as all building planning permissions can be viewed online.

“Once their application is live, I will be printing the petition and taking it down to the city council building and delivering it to them stating that more than 10,000 people are against their plans.”

More gig-lovers in the Capital have rallied behind his calls in the hope of derailing the project.

Office worker Murray Ross, 47, has e-mailed local councillors, MPs and MSPs to ask them to back the campaign.

He said: “When I first heard about it closing to become a Wetherspoons, I thought it was a hoax. It is such a fantastic and iconic venue.

“Edinburgh needs to keep these places. I have been to so many gigs there and was looking forward to taking my daughter, Ruadhan, on her 14th birthday. It’s a part of Edinburgh’s history.

“When I heard Callum was doing the petition, I wanted to do anything I could to help. I’ve been writing to everyone, even Wetherspoons, saying they could think outside the box and keep it as a music venue. I definitely think it is worth making a stand. Hopefully the council or Wetherspoons will have to listen.”

The Picture House began life as the Caley Cinema before its first incarnation as a music venue under the banner Caley Palais. At the height of its acclaim, it played host to musical giants including Queen, The Smiths and New Order.

It was converted to The Amphitheatre and Century 2000 before being restored to its art deco roots in 2008 as the Edinburgh Picture House under the stewardship of new owners MAMA and Company.

Concerts by Adam Ant, Rizzle Kicks and Nesbitt, who were all supposed to be performing next year, have been cancelled, with a Hogmanay party set to witness the venue’s farewell concert.

A Wetherspoon spokesman said: “We realise that people have strong feelings regarding the Picture House and that is reflected in the petition numbers. We will obviously take their views into 
consideration.”