The fight to save the Picture House has reached the Scottish Parliament, with 19 MSPs supporting a motion to continue live music at the popular venue.
The motion, put forward by Marco Biagi, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central, pictured below, has the support of 14 other SNP MSPs and three Labour MSPs from across Scotland, plus independent Lothians representative Margo MacDonald.
The motion reads: “That the Parliament notes the recent purchase of the Edinburgh live music venue, the Picture House, by JD Wetherspoon; considers that the Picture House is a much-loved venue and a key part of Edinburgh’s music scene; believes that the loss of the capacity to host musical performances would be a cultural and economic loss to the city; understands that a petition urging the new owners to retain the Picture House as a venue for music has attracted over 10,000 signatures, and urges JD Wetherspoon to preserve the place of live music in its plans for the Picture House.”
Mr Biagi said he put the motion forward after registering the “huge outpouring of support” for the venue.
He said: “When you compare the provision of live music venues in Edinburgh with Glasgow, it’s really quite embarrassing. What’s offered by the Picture House is not replicated anywhere else in this city and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Our aim now is to pressure JD Wetherspoon into confirming they will continue to use the Picture House as a place for live music in this city. If we’re not successful then we may encourage someone else to take over the venue.”
Edinburgh North and Leith MSP Malcolm Chisholm also signed the motion, along with his Labour colleagues Dunfermline MSP Cara Hilton and Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie. Mr Chisholm said: “I strongly support the Picture House’s retention as a music venue.”
Callum Mouat, 22, a bar supervisor at the Lothian Road venue whose petition to save it now stands at nearly at 11,000 signatures, said he was “lost for words”.
He said: “That’s amazing, I actually can’t believe it. The support has really been overwhelming.”
However, a spokesman for Wetherspoons said he “could not give any assurances”.
He said: “The fact that MSPs are now involved highlights the strength of feeling among the people of Edinburgh. All we can do is take this new information on board, but we cannot give any assurances one way or another at this stage.”
The petition has also been supported by musicians Frightened Rabbit, Frank Turner, Amanda Palmer, Nina Nesbitt and BBC DJ Vic Galloway.