The Bongo Club agrees deal with university to remain open until 2013

A CLOSURE-threatened arts venue and nightclub in Edinburgh has been granted a stay of execution.Edinburgh University has agreed to allow the Bongo Club, one of the city’s leading Fringe venues, to remain at its current home on Holyrood Road until early next year to help give it more time to find a new home.

• Edinburgh venue had been expected to close in September this year

• The extended deadline will allow more time for relocation to a new site, but plans remain to turn venue into classrooms

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• Bongo Club is a celebrated arts venue for Fringe events, and is also an arts space and nightclub

The university, which had told the Bongo to leave its home in September, has also agreed to to help arts organisation Out of the Blue find alternative accommodation for the venue but insists it will not be dropping plans to turn the existing Bongo Club into new classrooms.

It is thought a number of potential sites have been identified across the city, although securing a late-night licence for any new venue is likely to prove difficult.

The university had been asked to give the Bongo Club a year-long stay of execution, but manager Ally Hill said the move to allow the venue to stay open until 15 January was “great news.”

He added: “The extension to our lease gives us vital additional time to take forward promising partnerships to enable the Bongo Club to flourish in new premises.”

The university wants to redevelop the part of its Moray House School of Education that is currently leased out to the group for teaching spaces for lifelong learning programmes.

Professor Nigel Brown, senior vice-principal, said: “We’ve come to an agreement which accommodates the Bongo Club for these extra months and will allow the university to provide improved and much-needed teaching facilities for thousands of students who benefit from our lifelong learning programmes.”

The Bongo Club, which started as a small gallery in 1996, has been a mainstay of the Fringe, partly due to its celebrated late-night cabaret shows, while acts like the Scissor Sisters, Kasabian, KT Tunstall, Aberfeldy, Mark Thomas and Rob Newman have staged shows there.

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The Bongo Club was forced to relocate to the Holyrood Road site in 2003 to make way for building work on the ill-fated Caltongate development, on New Street, which is still to get off the ground.