This week’s announcement of six to eight gigs in Princes Street Gardens during the Festival – starting with Paloma Faith – was met with exactly the reaction that was to be expected. The Cockburn Association objected immediately while others saw it as something to greatly look forward to.
Personally, if the concerts are to be during the Festival, I would prefer them to be outwith the city centre, somewhere like Portobello, which would benefit greatly from the crowds especially if there was to be a series of gigs. Otherwise if they were held at a time less busy than the Festival, there would be more benefit to surrounding businesses, though any objection from residents would remain.
Edinburgh needs more big gigs and if the message is it can only support them when the city is full of visitors then that is not a good message to put across. Moreover this should not be seen as the council supporting music in the city centre as these sort of gigs are not a problem.
The problem is small grassroots venues needing support both from the public and the council and though I know many councillors and council officials have the will to do so I don’t see anything actually happening.
Already, before it has even happened, the restoration of Leith Theatre is being held up as a major council initiative, which of course it is, but it also bears no relevance to the issue of much smaller city centre venues. Friday’s announcement of £10 million for the Leith Theatre, King’s Theatre and a new concert hall, the Impact Centre, only reinforced that if money is to be spent it goes to the big ticket items.
Hopefully there will soon be news for smaller venues and bands that may not make the front pages of the papers but are just as important.