Euan McGrory: Aspiring artists deserve a home in Scotland’s festival city

Artist Chris Rutterford. Pic: Ian Georgeson
Artist Chris Rutterford. Pic: Ian Georgeson
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Thousands of people pass St Margaret’s House at Meadowbank every day without having any idea of what goes on inside.

From the outside it looks like one of the most uninspiring buildings in the Capital, a 1960s-style red brick office block with no redeeming features. Inside, it is very different. What was once dull offices is now a thriving hub of artistic industry. With space rented out cheaply to painters, craftspeople and other creative types, St Margaret’s is now described as the biggest artists’ village in Scotland.

The adapted office block, run by the charity Edinburgh Palette, offers a foothold for artists, who are often young and broke, and would otherwise have few other opportunities to work in Edinburgh. It also fosters support networks and access to expertise which help many of them turn their passion into a viable business.

Of course, the new owners who have bought the land with a view to building much-needed affordable homes and more student flats are not a charity themselves. It would leave the city much the poorer though if some way is not found to continue this great incubator of creative talent in the artistic Capital of Scotland.