Queen’s Hall refurbishment plans cold shouldered by Creative Scotland
Multi-million-pound plans to overhaul one of Edinburgh’s leading concert venues have been dealt a huge blow after they were rejected by Scotland’s arts agency.
The Queen’s Hall – one of the key venues for the Fringe and Edinburgh International Festival – had been hoping to win backing for a complete restoration of its main auditorium and the creation of a new 125-seater venue at the back.
The plans, which involved an overhaul of the café-bar and new backstage facilities, were aimed at securing the future of the listed building after previous attempts at a refurbishment stalled over planning restrictions and funding problems.
But controversy has flared after the £8.5 million plans were turned down in Creative Scotland’s latest round for capital projects – in favour of a new statue of William Wallace in Stirling, a massive work of art at the Scotland-England Border and a sculpture commemorating Fife’s mining heritage.
The agency has earmarked £15m of funding for 16 projects across the country, including in Campbeltown, Dumfries, Alloa, Findhorn and Cove, Argyll.
The Queen’s Hall was turned down for £2m just two months after Creative Scotland chief executive Andrew Dixon admitted the quality of the festivals and events staged in Edinburgh was not matched by the city’s cultural infrastructure.
The former church, which was converted to a music venue in 1979, regularly hosts everything from classical concerts to rock, pop, folk and jazz gigs.
Creative Scotland has criticised the city council for failing to put its weight behind the Queen’s Hall project – but the council insists it would have been breaking accountancy rules to put money into a building it doesn’t own. The council, which recently completed a refurbishment of the Assembly Rooms on George Street, also pointed out the Queen’s Hall plans were developed following a city-wide study of arts and cultural venues it commissioned.
Roderick Wylie, chairman of the Queen’s Hall, said: “We are disappointed by the outcome of our application to Creative Scotland’s capital investment programme.
“We will now take some time to reflect upon their feedback and seek discussions with key stakeholders on what the next steps might be to realise the refurbishment of this much-loved Edinburgh venue.”
A Creative Scotland spokeswoman said: “The recent round of capital investment was highly competitive and there were at least 20 other projects that were unsuccessful.
“Our next round of large capital investment will open for applications in the spring of 2013 and the Queen’s Hall could potentially reapply then.”
The council told Creative Scotland the Queen’s Hall was vital to Edinburgh’s cultural infrastructure. Council culture leader Richard Lewis said the council was “extremely disappointed” the Queen’s Hall had missed out. He added: “We advised Creative Scotland that we regarded the Queen’s Hall application as a high priority. It remains the only music venue of its size in the city and we believe the proposals are crucial.”
Winning projects included Moat Brae House in Dumfries, in line for a total of £732,500, the Guardians fo Scotland memorial to Wallace and Andrew de Moray, awarded a total of £194,000, and the Star of Caledonia landmark at Gretna, earmarked for more than £1m.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 5 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west