Edinburgh's Fruitmarket gallery to see return of live music

For more than 40 years, it was a staple of the Capital's nightlife scene.

Thursday, 8th November 2018, 7:32 am
Updated Thursday, 8th November 2018, 7:33 am
Fruitmarket gallery in Edinbirgh Picture: The Easton Foundation
Fruitmarket gallery in Edinbirgh Picture: The Easton Foundation

But now, live music, theatre and dance events are set to return to the site of the former Electric Circus under scaled-back expansion plans for the neighbouring Fruitmarket Gallery.

The venue unexpectedly closed its doors two years early in March 2017 after City of Edinburgh Council, which owned both buildings, agreed a deal with the gallery allowing to reach its long-held expansion goals.

But now, gallery bosses have revealed revised proposals for the refurbishment featuring what they describe as designated space for “performance and cross-artform collaboration including live music, dance and theatre” in a project now set to cost less than half the previous projections.

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In a notice confirming that architects Reiach and Hall will lead the redevelopment, the gallery also revealed it will create “new facilities for learning and participation to renovate and revitalise the existing gallery spaces”.

The project is now expected to cost around £3.7 million – almost a third of the original £10m budget.

Around £1.4m worth of funding will be provided by Creative Scotland, while a further £1.2m has already been raised from other public and private sources.

Amanda Catto, head of visual arts at Creative Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this development, one of several important visual arts projects taking place in Edinburgh at this time, supported by Creative Scotland through the National Lottery.”

She added: “This development will enhance the existing Fruitmarket Gallery space, breathe new life into the adjacent warehouse, and secure this important part of the city’s heritage as a space for artists and the public to meet into the future.”

The gallery said just over 25 per cent of the funding was still to be raised to complete the project.

When the deal was first announced, Fruitmarket director Fiona Bradley described the prospect of a takeover of the Electric Circus site as “the Holy Grail” for the gallery.

Dennis Chester, managing director of Waverley Leisure, the firm which previously owned the site over the last four decades, said that the new-look gallery would be a “fitting end” to his company’s stewardship of the site.

The initially proposed development would have doubled the size of the gallery, which dates back to 1974 and attracted more than 190,000 visitors last year.

The gallery said the refurbishment was due to be completed by 2020.