Comment: Edinburgh should treat music like comedy

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In a city which hosts the world’s biggest arts festival, it is an unusual problem to have. Our live music scene pales in comparison to other cities, with constant moans not just about the need for a mid-sized concert venue but for smaller gig space.

Plans for a new concert arena are mothballed amid a £100 million funding gap and in the current climate city leaders will be unlikely to change their tune any time soon.

The closure of the 1000-capacity Picturehouse on Lothian Road has only added to the problem of top acts giving the city a wide berth.

Meanwhile at the other end of the musical scale, licensing 
problems and red tape can often prove to be a barrier to smaller 
operators.

Today’s news of a taskforce to explore innovative options for 
supporting the music scene is 
welcome.

Looking at what has happened in other cities around the world, notably Austin, it is clear the Capital has an opportunity here. Ideas include bringing empty council properties into use for both temporary rehearsal space and venues. Help with licensing and loans for noise reduction measures to prevent waking up the neighbours are also to be considered.

All of which, if it happens, would go some way to helping Edinburgh steal back a slice of culture from the West.

We’re not going to be able to compete with the fantastic O2 venue, at least not in the foreseeable future. But we can be doing more to exploit what is already here and help nurture the talent of tomorrow.

As Bruce Findlay says today, it is all very well looking abroad for inspiration but we should not forget what happens on our doorstep every August.

A variety of venues spring up sometime from seemingly nowhere to house performances. It is perhaps time Edinburgh started doing for music, what it has done for comedy.