Edinburgh concert hall ‘needs to be multi-purpose facility’

The new concert hall could be open by 2020 if plans go ahead
The new concert hall could be open by 2020 if plans go ahead
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PLANS for a new multi-million pound music venue have been given the thumbs up – but developers need to be “really ambitious” for it to succeed.

This week the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) revealed it is spearheading a £45 million bid for a new concert hall off St Andrew Square, just behind the historic Royal Bank of Scotland building.

It is hoped the venue could be used each year for the Edinburgh International Festival and would have a 1000-person capacity.

Bruce Findlay, who managed Scottish rock band Simple Minds for 12 years, said a popular music venue could be just what the Capital needs.

He said: “One of the things that Edinburgh has been crying out for is a mid-size rock and roll venue with a 1000 to 1500 capacity.

“We had it before with The Picture House [but] they have all either been demolished or transformed into something else.

“There’s no doubt that we miss out on a mid-size popular music venue.”

However Bruce, a former record retailer who once had three outlets across the Capital, questioned whether or not it might be better to spend money on revamping the existing Queen’s Hall venue.

He added: “The trouble with Queen’s Hall is that it needs a major makeover to turn it into a state-of-the-art concert venue.

“It might be that it’s out-living its uses and that we do need a new concert hall.

“It’s underfunded but it’s a crying shame if they have to spend £50m building a new concert hall when a £4m spend on Queen’s Hall might make more sense.

“That’s what the experts will have to consider.”

However Nigel Griffiths, chair of Queen’s Hall, welcomed the SCO’s news. In a statement, he said the concert hall would “improve the cultural infrastructure of the city” and that he wished the organisation well with their venture.

The SCO has teamed up with charitable trust IMPACT Scotland to draw up plans for the venue, which could be open by 2020.

Bosses have said it would be designed for a range of events, including rock, folk and chamber concerts.

According to Mr Findlay, being a multi-purpose facility would be vital for the venue’s success.

He said: “It sounds a bit old fashioned but if they had a venue with fabulous cafes and bars or rock and roll that makes sense to me. I think we need something really ambitious not just a standalone concert hall.”

SCO chairman Colin Buchan said: “Not only will it provide our internationally renowned orchestra with a splendid new home, it will also enable the SCO to reach out in ways that have not been possible in the past.”