£10m fundraising campaign for Edinburgh concert hall under way

A £10 million campaign is being launched today to deliver the first new purpose-built concert hall in Edinburgh for more than a century.
The venue is earmarked for St Andrew Square. Picture: Ian RutherfordThe venue is earmarked for St Andrew Square. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The venue is earmarked for St Andrew Square. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The fundraising drive for the £45m New Town project, which will be known as The Impact Centre, has been triggered ahead of the first plans being unveiled next month.

The 1,000-capacity venue, earmarked for a site behind the Royal Bank of Scotland’s historic head office on St Andrew Square, will become home to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, but will also be available for performances of all kinds of music.

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The project has already received a pledge of £20m from the UK and Scottish governments, via the recent City Deal, while the Dunard Trust, one of the biggest private backers of the arts in Scotland, has set aside £10m.

The appeal website states: “Edinburgh is a city bursting with creativity. It has a vibrant programme of artistic performances throughout the year, culminating in the world’s biggest arts festival.

“Despite this, it lacks a purpose-designed, mid-sized venue which can provide a world-class acoustic experience and act as a hub for all kinds of performance – from orchestral to jazz and folk and including performance of dance and the spoken word. All this is set to change with the development of Edinburgh’s first dedicated new space for music and the performing arts in 100 years.

“The Impact Centre will meet the much-recognised need for a 1,000-seat hall offering the very best acoustics, comfortable seating and uninterrupted sightlines. It will attract top international performers, create a rehearsal and performance space, and provide an inspiring venue for future generations of performers and audiences.”

The charitable trust leading the project said it will complete James Craig’s original 18th century vision for the square, which proposed a public building for the site – only for it to be acquired by businessman Sir Lawrence Dundas for his own use.

Sir Ewan Brown, chairman of the Impact Scotland trust, said: “We’re turning a long-held need for a new mid-sized performance venue into a reality. It will be a world-class centre embracing all musical genres and attracting performers and audiences looking to experience acoustic excellence.

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“There’s strong support from across the public sector for the project, as demonstrated by the City Deal commitment. We’re now embarking on a funding campaign to raise a further £10m. We’re greatly encouraged by the level of interest and support we’ve received so far.”

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The project will secure a versatile new performance venue in the centre of Edinburgh and provide a home for the SCO. The economic and cultural benefits will be felt throughout Scotland, enhancing our reputation as a leading centre for music and the performing arts.”

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Fergus Linehan, director of the Edinburgh International Festival, said: “We have to have the best facilities in order to attract the best performers to Edinburgh. But it’s also important to have a real focal point for music in the city. It will be an incredibly beautiful place for people to play, but it will also be a year-round destination as somewhere to go.”