The future of one of Edinburgh’s most popular concert halls has been secured after it won £650,000 worth of backing for a long-awaited makeover.
A full restoration of the fabric of the Queen’s Hall, which will be carried out in time for its 40th anniversary in 2019, is expected to prolong its life by another 50 years.
The funding is also expected to pave the way for a further £3 million worth of improvements, which are hoped to be completed in time for the Georgian building’s 200th anniversary in 2023.
The current home of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO), it is the only major venue in the city to host live music events for the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe and the city’s Jazz and Blues Festival.
The support from the Scottish Government and Historic Scotland is a major of vote of confidence in the venue, which has suffered a series of setbacks over refurbishment plans over the last 15 years.
The financial backing, which will pay for masonry, windows, doors and the roof to be renovated, has been confirmed months after plans emerged for a brand new 1000-seater concert hall in the New Town, which is being led by the SCO.
The £45m complex is earmarked for a gap site behind the Royal Bank of Scotland’s historic head office on St Andrew Square. It is being bankrolled by the Dunard Fund, a trust set up by American philanthropist Carol Grigor, one of the key backers of both the SCO and the EIF.
Nigel Griffiths, chairman of the Queen’s Hall board, said: “We’ve already installed new lighting, state-of-the-art staging and a specially-commissioned new Steinway building in the last year or so.
“But this investment is absolutely imperative for the future of the building. It makes sure that historic parts of the building are good for another few decades.
“We won’t need more major works for at least another 50 years, but it also allows us to launch our fundraising plans for the future.
“By 2023 we want to have everything done in the hall that makes it a concert venue that reflects the 19th century, but is also fit for the 21st century.
Culture secretary and Linlithgow MSP Fiona Hyslop, who visited the venue to announce the funding deal, said: “The Queen’s Hall is a much-loved part of Edinburgh’s performance history. It is a firm favourite with performers and audiences throughout the year including Edinburgh’s International, Fringe, and Jazz and Blues festivals.
“As we celebrate the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, the funding will ensure the historic building is in a good state of repair.”
SCO chief executive Gavin Reid said: “We are immensely grateful to the Scottish Government and Historic Environment Scotland for this important funding. It will be welcomed by everyone in the orchestra, our audience and the staff.”