It can’t be the final curtain for Summerhall - Lorna Slater

Scottih Green Party co-leader Lorna SlaterScottih Green Party co-leader Lorna Slater
Scottih Green Party co-leader Lorna Slater
Home to over 100 businesses, artists and galleries, and with events all year round, Summerhall is a key part of Edinburgh’s cultural scene and has been for over a decade. Its closure would be a huge loss for our city.

As one of the prime accessible venues of the Fringe, Summerhall has been home to a lot of laughter and tears from people around the world. The 12,000 strong petition that has been set-up in a bid to save it is a sign of how much it means to local people.

I hope that the current owners and any prospective buyers can work with the artists and galleries that are part of it to ensure that the iconic space remains an arts and culture hub, and that it continues to make a positive contribution to our city.

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That could mean looking at community ownership models or an agreement to ensure a new buyer maintains a cultural remit.

Thousands of people have signed a petition to save the Summerhall venue in Edinburgh. Picture: Mihaela BodlovicThousands of people have signed a petition to save the Summerhall venue in Edinburgh. Picture: Mihaela Bodlovic
Thousands of people have signed a petition to save the Summerhall venue in Edinburgh. Picture: Mihaela Bodlovic

There is a real cross party desire to see a positive outcome and my Scottish Green council colleagues and I will work with anyone we can to make it happen.

I’ve written to the Minister for Culture, Angus Robertson, urging him to work with the council and the venue owners to help in forging a solution.

It’s a difficult time for culture in our city and across our country, which would make the loss even greater. Whether it is the threat to Summerhall or the closure of the Jazz Bar on Chamber Street, things have been tough.

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According to data from the Music Venues Trust, the number of grassroots music venues across the UK fell by 13 per cent in 2023 alone. That meant 30,000 less events, which reduced opportunities for bands and artists and impacted 4000 jobs.

One of the bright lights on the horizon is the reopening of the Filmhouse later this year, which set an important precedent and showed the power of local campaigning.

But behind it there is an important question about how we ensure long-term and sustainable funding and support for independent venues.

One option that the Scottish Greens have long supported is a stadium tax, with a £1 levy on some of the biggest acts at Murrayfield and Hampden, which would help us to deliver vital funds that can be invested in grassroots arts, venues and artists.

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Venues like Summerhall aren’t just bricks and mortar. They are so much more than that. They are places where memories are made. They make Edinburgh a better and a richer city. They help to bind the very fabric of our society, from the jobs they deliver to the dreams they inspire.

I hope that Summerhall can be preserved and that we can maintain and enhance Edinburgh’s reputation as a cultural beacon that is celebrated and treasured across Scotland and beyond.

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