THE Capital’s ailing gig scene was dealt a fresh blow last night as the owners of popular Edinburgh live music venue and nightclub Studio 24 revealed that they are to close down for good.
Citing renewed complaints from neighbouring residents over noise levels and the prospect of facing future license hearings, the owners of Calton Road’s Studio 24 revealed they have finally had enough and will be closing the venue next month.
The shock announcement was made at 10:25pm via Studio 24’s social media channels, sparking a mass outcry from fans of the nightclub.
Speaking directly to their Facebook followers, the venue’s emotive statement praised those who have supported them over the years but laid bare the owners’ weariness at fighting against a neverending barrage of noise complaints and council restrictions:
“For years we’ve fought the good fight, giving a place for lovers of underground music somewhere where they feel safe in a friendly environment surrounded by staff who genuinely care about the music playing, the atmosphere and making sure the customers feel the same love.
“We’re gutted we’ve had to come to this decision, but with years of investing thousands upon thousands in sound-proofing and legal fees in order to stay open, alongside complaining neighbours and harsh council-enforced sound restrictions, we feel these problems won’t leave us, with more complaints recently received and no real support from licensing standards officers, therefore threatening our ability to stay open.
“We feel that it’s better to jump than be pushed, and perhaps us leaving the entertainment circuit might make the powers-that-be realise the need for a shake-up of how a capital city’s music scene should be supported. Calton Road once pulsed with music – from The Venue, to The Bongo on New Street to Studio 24. This part of the Old Town is almost silenced now. It’s the heart of the city, but the beat has been silenced.”
Echoing the sentiments of hundreds of others, one Facebook user wrote: “No words can describe the impact the studios had on my life and the fun I had there with such amazing people. Eternal respect to Dave, Liz and Gill for keeping the candle burning so long. Huge love to Tommy, Shaun, Wullie, Womble and Coco. Without doubt the best venue Edinburgh has ever lost. I will treasure every memory.”
Over two thousand people have already signed an online petition addressed to Edinburgh Council’s licensing board in a desperate bid to save the ‘essential venue’ from closure.
Expressing his sadness at the venue’s imminent closure, SNP Councillor Lewis Ritchie who represents the Leith Walk Ward argued that the Capital should be doing more to protect its music scene.
“For over two decades Studio 24 has been essential for the live music scene in this city because of its open, accessible and safe environment. It’s been a massive part of lots of people’s lives.
“Edinburgh is renowned for being a festival city, therefore we need to live up to that expectation and provide places like Studio 24 where people can go to enjoy themselves.”
Councillor Ritchie added: “The city will be a much poorer place without Studio’s vibrant mix of alternative music, live music, electro and metal.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Our staff have been speaking to Edinburgh’s venue owners and performers for more than a year to establish a plan for live music in the city. During this time, significant changes have been made to make Edinburgh’s noise policy clearer and fairer. Since new conditions came into effect for Studio 24 in November, the council hasn’t received any noise complaints relating to the venue.”
Paul Lawrence, the council’s director of place, added: “We haven’t been made aware of the venue’s reasons for closure of Studio 24, but I would welcome a meeting with the owners to discuss their situation.
“We’re committed to working with the industry to support live music and I will be presenting a report detailing the work of the Music Is Audible taskforce to members of the new council administration this summer.
“Meanwhile, I continue to urge existing and potential venue owners to come to us to discuss issues and plans.”
Situated at 24-26 Calton Road, the nightclub has been plagued by a string of noise complaints in recent years and has faced closure on a number of occasions in the past.
In June 2005, amid significant pressure from local residents regarding noise levels and anti-social behaviour by late night revellers, Gillian McArthur and family, Studio 24’s owners announced that they would be shutting up shop the following January. However, a spirited campaign backed by 1,500 regulars managed to keep the venue open.
Acting on recommendations from the city council, Studio 24 bosses then parted with £40,000 to soundproof the premises in order to remain in business – but this did not spell an end to the nightclub’s problems.
Controversial plans to build student accommodation just metres away from the nightclub were given the green light in 2006, much to the disappointment of Studio 24 who argued that the decision left the door wide open for more noise complaints, thereby threatening the long-term future of the club.
Three years later, the troubled Edinburgh nightclub had its licence suspended after police were called more than 40 times in the space of a year in response to noise complaints and allegations that the venue had admitted under-age revellers.
Despite having endured a bumpy ride, the popular gig haunt has soldiered on in the eight years since its suspension, but recent complaints in the last few months has prompted Studio 24’s owners to revaluate their options.
Billed as ‘Edinburgh’s home for alternative music’, Studio 24 has been independently-run by the same family since 1995. Prior to this the venue was called Calton Studios and famously welcomed American grunge legends Nirvana on to its stage twice in 1990 and 1991.
The premises were originally built as an engineering factory, before being transformed into a television studio - hence its current name - and a cinema.
Since reopening as Studio 24 twenty-two years ago, the 700-capacity venue has acted as a pillar for the Capital’s underground and alternative music communities and has developed a formidable reputation for supporting new or unknown acts.
Acknowledged for its unique atmosphere and insistence on playing anything but mainstream music, the Calton Road nightspot looks as if it will be joining The Picturehouse and Electric Circus as one of Edinburgh’s most recent gig venue casualties.
Judging by the heartfelt reaction to the news of its closure across social media - the announcement has been shared over 1,500 times on Facebook alone - Studio 24’s absence from the Edinburgh music scene will be mourned for many years to come.