Studio 24 owners confirm sale to property developers

Studio 24 bosses have announced that the popular nightspot is to close after 22 years. Picture: Google Maps
Studio 24 bosses have announced that the popular nightspot is to close after 22 years. Picture: Google Maps
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The owners of a popular live music venue in Edinburgh where rock giants Nirvana once played have confirmed it has been sold to a property developer.

Studio 24 was snapped up shortly before it was announced that the Calton Road building would be closing within weeks.

Bosses have blamed a long-running battle with the city council and neighbouring residents for the demise of the venue, which was previously known as the Calton Studios and has operated for more than 30 years.

The former TV studios are close to the New Waverley development, a £150 million scheme to create new apartments, shops, bars and restaurants between the Royal Mile and Calton Road.

The owners of the former engineering factory have had a series of battles with residents in new flats which have been built in the Calton Road area over the last 15 years.

News of its closure was greeted with widespread dismay on social media and prompted an online petition to save the venue, which attracted more than 3500 backers in less than 24 hours.

Manager Gill McArthur said: “The building has been sold. The deal was concluded this week. We are leasing it back to give us time to allow a celebration of all we have done over the years. They will most likely develop it into flats.

“The council will get what they have always wanted. A city for the rich and no diversity.

“No-one else would take on the risk. It’s too fragile an industry when one person has too much power to close you down.

“My family have lost tens of thousands of pounds trying to do what was right for this city - music, culture and diversity.

“The council could have made amends for their failure, but they allowed us to suffer and now Edinburgh will. It’s a sad time and we’re all devastated. But we’d rather choose when to go.”

A statement issued on the Studio 24 Facebook site said: “For years we’ve fought the good fight, giving a place for lovers of underground music somewhere where they feel safe in a friendly environment surrounded by staff who genuinely care about the music playing, the atmosphere and making sure the customers feel the same love.

“We’re gutted we’ve had to come to this decision, but with years of investing thousands upon thousands in sound-proofing and legal fees in order to stay open, alongside complaining neighbours and harsh council-enforced sound restrictions, we feel these problems won’t leave us, with more complaints recently received and no real support from licensing standards officers, therefore threatening our ability to stay open.

“We feel that it’s better to jump than be pushed, and perhaps us leaving the entertainment circuit might make the powers-that-be realise the need for a shake-up of how a capital city’s music scene should be supported. Calton Road once pulsed with music – from The Venue, to The Bongo on New Street to Studio 24. This part of the Old Town is almost silenced now. It’s the heart of the city, but the beat has been silenced.”

Music fans have been left reeling by a spate of recent closures, including Electric Circus and the Citrus Club. Pub operator Wetherspoon recently took over the former Picture House venue on Lothian Road, while Leith Depot’s operators have announced that their building is facing demolition after being bought over by a new owner.

• READ MORE: Outcry as Edinburgh’s Studio 24 announces closure

A statement from the Music Is Audible group of venues and promoters, which was set up to campaign for a better deal for the city’s music scene, said: “We are saddened to hear of Studio 24’s decision to close following what appears to be a renewed round of complaints from neighbours regarding noise and the subsequent response from the licensing authorities.

“After more than two years of discussions with the council, it is disappointing that a venue which has been in the frontline of developments that changed the fabric of Calton Road seems to feel that it must step down from providing one of the most vital homes to alternative musical culture in the city.

“Our hearts go out to those at Studio 24 who fought for the right to party and for a space for creativity, despite – to put it very mildly – challenging conditions in the face of development in the area.

“This was development, notably, that took place after the building was a well-established space for music making. What happened to prompt Studio 24’s decision has yet to be made clear, but we respect their decision. What happens next with the building housing Studio 24 remains to be seen.

“For it to be simply sold off to convert the building into flats (a process arguably at the root of Studio 24’s problems) would deprive not just Calton Road but the city as a whole of a key cultural asset.

“The venue was driven by a commitment to music and to community rather than profit, and had a unique character. As such, its loss is more significant than the loss of a more commercial profit-driven business.

“We wants to reassert our position in protecting existing music venues in the city to ensure a local music community can thrive.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Our staff have been speaking to Edinburgh’s venue owners and performers for more than a year to establish a plan for live music in the city.

“During this time, significant changes have been made to make Edinburgh’s noise policy clearer and fairer. Since new conditions came into effect for Studio 24 in November, the council hasn’t received any noise complaints relating to the venue.”

Paul Lawrence, the council’s director of place, added: “We haven’t been made aware of the venue’s reasons for closure of Studio 24, but I would welcome a meeting with the owners to discuss their situation.

“We’re committed to working with the industry to support live music and I will be presenting a report detailing the work of the Music Is Audible taskforce to members of the new council administration this summer.

“Meanwhile, I continue to urge existing and potential venue owners to come to us to discuss issues and plans.”