Hidden Doors to return to King’s Stables Rd depot

Paula Petroll works on''3 Collideoscope at last year's event. Picture: Julie Bull
Paula Petroll works on''3 Collideoscope at last year's event. Picture: Julie Bull
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IT’S the popular city arts event known for its unusual exhibitions and cutting-edge installations.

Now Hidden Door Festival has been given the go-ahead to take over a disused council depot for a second year.

The week-long showcase, which features work from a range of upcoming Scottish artists, will transform the old street-lighting and cleansing depot on King’s Stables Road into a vibrant cultural wonderland over the course of late May and June next year.

Earlier this summer the sprawling complex was put to use as exhibition rooms, two theatres, two live music venues, a cinema and three bars – with events running into the night.

But organisers had feared the festival would be their last on the unusual site after the plot was earmarked for development.

Developer Peveril bought the land from the council in February – with plans to build a hotel, student flats and “arts complex”. But with work not set to begin on site until autumn next year, Hidden Door has been given the chance to stage the arts extravaganza in the unique buildings one last time.

David Martin, Hidden Door’s creative director, said: “At the time of this year’s festival we never thought this would be an option, as we were led to believe to site would be undergoing development shortly after we moved out. But when we were told it would still be available, we leaped at the chance.

“It’s such a fantastic venue, and the opportunity to use it one last time is too good to pass up.”

Tucked under the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, the unique 18th century site boasts a labyrinth of buildings, nooks and crannies – complete with a secret courtyard at its centre.

It has lain completely empty since 2009, with the original roads depot ceasing to exist in the 1960s.

The 2016 Hidden Door Festival will feature 40 new artists, six nights of live music and 12 theatre companies – as well as programmes of live poetry and film. Applications to get involved are open until November 29. A series of talks and discussions on issues surrounding the development of city centre sites such as King’s Stables Road are also scheduled.

Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s festivals and events champion, said: “We will welcome the Hidden Door Festival back to Edinburgh next year. Any enterprise that promotes access to the arts in Edinburgh is warmly received. Pop-up exhibitions can be a great way to showcase live music, art, film and spoken word and the council has accommodated a number of temporary installations and pop-ups.”

Jonny Kinross, chair of the Greater Grassmarket Business Improvement District, added: “Last year’s Hidden Door Festival was a huge success and we are delighted that this popular festival will be returning to King’s Stables Road for a second year running in May and June 2016.”

Hidden Door was previously held in the Market Street Vaults and attracts thousands of people every year with its offer of art, shows and events – each tailored to the space in which they are performed.

alistair.grant@jpress.co.uk