£250m bill to transform arts venues to 'world class' level
UP to £250 million would be needed to bring Edinburgh's offering of arts and cultural venues up to a "world-class" standard, a new report has revealed.
Documents seen by the Evening News attach the lofty price tag to a refurbishment programme for the city's existing facilities as well as new venues.
This includes projects such as the revamp of the Assembly Rooms but also longer-term proposals such as building a 10,000-seat concert arena at Ingliston and a home for the film festival.
A council-led audit of the Capital's cultural venues is ongoing but initial findings have identified three funding options. As well as the most ambitious 250m plan, there is a 100m option where only around half of the projects would be considered and a further 50m option where the bare minimum would be spent to keep the city's 73 venues ticking over.
The cash would be spent over 15 to 20 years and would come from public and private sources.
The council-led review was sparked by a 2007 Thundering Hooves report which warned Edinburgh was likely to fall behind other cities if there was not greater investment in the Capital's venues and festivals.
Opposition politicians and arts chiefs today said the funding priorities had to be improving the existing cultural venues.
Adrian Harris, chief executive of the Queen's Hall, which has put its own multi-million pound revamp plans on hold while the council study is completed, said: "The clearest thing that has come through in my involvement in this process is that the city needs to invest in its existing venues before considering new ones.
"What is also important is to consider that this will be for a 15 or 20-year period, so it is not as if this money would be needed up front, though there are some venues which do need investment fairly quickly.
"All of the venues have a responsibility to work together with the council on this. The Thundering Hooves report underlined the pressing need for more investment in Edinburgh."
Among the venues thought to appear at the top of the study's refurbishment priority list are the Assembly Rooms, Leith Theatre, Ross Bandstand and the King's Theatre. Other new-build ideas such as a 1500-capacity classical concert venue are likely to be ruled out due to prohibitive costs.
Labour group culture spokesman Paul Godzik said: "The city has been lacking a proper strategy for its cultural venues and I hope this report can provide this.
"The priority has, however, got to be existing venues like the King's Theatre, which is in dire need of extra investment."
The venues review was meant to be finished in December last year but is now set to report back to councillors in April.
A council spokesman refused to be drawn on the costs involved, but added: "Our consultants are still working on the report and it is hoped it will be presented to councillors in the near future."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 5 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North east