> Edinburgh Arts Venue Summerhall to be sold - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

Edinburgh Arts Venue Summerhall to be sold

With the news that Summerhall, one of the jewels in Scotland’s arts landscape, is to be put up for sale, another essential cornerstone of Edinburgh and Scotland’s wider cultural stage looks likely to be lost.

‘In 2011, buying the old Vet School Buildings was ambitious.’ says Robert McDowell, Director of Summerhall Management Ltd.

As ambitious as the move might have been, it is one that for the last thirteen years has undoubtedly paid off.

A thriving arts hub

Since the venue, which overlooks the Meadows, transformed into Summerhall it has thrived as one of the biggest privately-owned multi-arts centres in Europe.

Besides being home to numerous Fringe acts, it has served as a year-long hub of culture for the city. From free art exhibitions open to the public year round to live music venues that allow up and coming Edinburgh bands to share the stage with established musicians from around the globe; its influence cannot be understated.

From the much-loved Royal Dick pub, Barney’s Beer, Pickering’s Gin distillery, to community radio station EHFM and myriad other festivals and artists’ studios, Summerhall houses over 110 companies.

This is all to change with current owners – Oesselmann Estate Limited, a company registered in the Isle of Man – having informed Summerhall Management Ltd of their intention to sell.

Change in ownership

While the sale will allow existing tenant leases to remain in place and is not set to impact any upcoming events including their 2024 Fringe lineup, there is uncertainty as to the future of the venue.

Regarding the sale McDowell says that he hopes ‘with new owners buying the building, Summerhall will be strengthened for the future – and continue its miraculously extraordinary activities, new investment and vigour for the next decade and beyond…’

Despite McDowell’s optimism, CuthbertWhite, the property consultants charged with the sale of the building , have stated that there exist ​​ ‘refurbishment options’ for prospective owners including ‘residential, galleries and entertainment spaces, boutique hotels, offices, studios, and student housing.’

The mention of student housing and boutique hotels sets the alarm bells ringing and casts serious doubt for the future of the buildings as an arts venue.

In the press release shared by Summerhall, CuthbertWhite says ‘We are excited to be bringing this to the open market and we expect considerable interest in this property from a wide range of domestic and international parties.’

There is hope, although possibly slim, that the venue can be preserved in its current use with a petition entitled ‘Preserve Summerhall as a Cultural Hub in Edinburgh’ having, at the time of writing, gained over 125 signatures since the news of the sale was announced today.

You can view and sign the petition here:

Let us know your thoughts on the future of Summerhall [editor@snackpublishing.com]

Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

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