Edinburgh unveils first ‘music city’ writer-in-residence to champion gigs and acts

Edinburgh has unveiled its first ever music writer-in-residence to help document its scene and champion its stars of the future.

Sunday, 15th May 2022, 5:52 pm
Updated Sunday, 15th May 2022, 5:55 pm

Stuart Niven, from Leith, will write about live gigs and emerging acts for the rest of the year after winning a contest to take on the new role.

The 37-year-old was attending more than 50 gigs a year in the city before the pandemic struck.

He will review at least eight gigs around Edinburgh and also get the chance to raise the profile of emerging acts and interview key players in the industry during his tenure.

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Niven, a learning and development consultant with a financial services firm, won the contest – launched by the Forever Edinburgh and Edinburgh Music Lovers campaigns – with a review of one of this year’s hottest acts, Wet Leg, at The Mash House.

The role was created in the wake of efforts to help revive the live music in Edinburgh as it emerges from the pandemic and champion it as a "music city.”

Niven will be taking on the role ahead of the return of Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh Castle, Leith Theatre and the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston this summer. Other signs of revival include an announcement on the reopening of the historic Royal High School building for the Hidden Door festival, the green light for the first new purpose-built concert hall in the city for a century, a takeover and revamp of the Corn Exchange venue by the Academy Music group, the return of HMV to Princes Street and the opening of a new vinyl record shop in Bruntsfield.

The competition was launched last month to mark the start of the second year of Forever Edinburgh, a council-led campaign which is being funded to the tune of £90,000 by VisitScotland.

Stuart Niven is Edinburgh's new music writer in residence. Picture: Lloyd Smith

Niven said: “This news put a huge smile on my face, I was grinning from ear to ear when I found out.

"I work in learning and development for a living but I enjoy writing and have often thought about doing some sort of blog or review page for the gigs and festivals I attend - mainly just to keep record and have a memory of them all.

“It was great to have my review received so positively. This competition has definitely given me the encouragement to continue writing.

“I think it is a hugely exciting time for the Edinburgh music scene right now.

Stuart Niven, Edinburgh's new music writer in residedence, will be helping to shine a light on the city’s music scene and encourage people to visit the city. Picture: Lloyd Smith

"The Usher Hall over the last few years has attracted some huge names from all genres, O2’s acquisition of the Corn Exchange and subsequent bookings are encouraging, and we have some incredible small venues like Sneaky Pete’s, which continues to lead the charge.”

Karl Chapman, head of cultural venues at the city council, one of the backers of the Forever Edinburgh campaign, which was launched to help the Scottish capital bounce back from the pandemic, said: “Stuart is clearly a passionate music fan who enjoys creative writing. I’ll be looking forward to reading his reviews of diverse Edinburgh gigs over the next few months.

“The city’s music scene has been badly hit by the global pandemic, but we’re happy to see it coming back to life with an eclectic array of concerts lined up in venues of all sizes across Edinburgh.”