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Wed December 01 2021

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Go-ahead given for Edinburgh concert hall

5 days Edinburgh City Council has approved plans for the city’s first purpose-built music and performance venue in over 100 years.

Impact Scotland will build the 1,000-capacity Dunard Centre just behind Dundas House off Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square. 

Dunard Centre, which is supported by Royal Bank of Scotland, is intended to provide a platform for local, national and international musicians to perform to audiences in a hall designed to rival the very best in the world.

Consultants Nagata Acoustics has been working with award-winning David Chipperfield Architects on the design of the auditorium design, which is planned to host musicians from the worlds of classical, traditional, jazz, pop, world and folk music.

The flexible setting will be a home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra as well as for other ensembles, choirs, solo musicians and bands.

A café and an all-day events schedule are also included in the plans, with education and community outreach programmes encouraging participation throughout the region. 

Fergus Linehan, festival director and CEO of Edinburgh International Festival and co-chair of Impact Scotland, said: “The council’s decision today is fantastic news for the city and for music in Scotland. Edinburgh is a city famous for its cultural life and home to world-renowned arts festivals which generate over £300 million for the Scottish economy, but it lags behind many other cities in its provision of cultural infrastructure which currently deters some artists from choosing to perform in the city.  By creating a modern hall with outstanding facilities and acoustics, we are closing the recognised gap in the region’s cultural infrastructure and helping to sustain Edinburgh’s position as a leading cultural city against national and international competition.  At the same time, we are creating a year-round cultural hub to offer a diverse range of performances and an extensive education and community outreach programme.”  

Gavin Reid, CEO of Scottish Chamber Orchestra and co-chair of Impact Scotland said: “Today’s approval is tremendous news for the city and turns the ambition for a world-class centre for music and performance, into a reality. The Dunard Centre will become the new home of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and will be transformational. A stunning auditorium offering the very best in modern acoustics and boasting state of the art digital broadcast facilities will allow us to dream big, expand our repertoire, collaborate with ever more composers and artists, present our work innovatively, courageously and flexibly all with a new-found sense of adventure and ambition, always seeking to reach more and more people.”

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Malcolm Buchanan, chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Scottish board, said: “The City Council’s decision to approve plans for the Dunard Centre is an important milestone for Edinburgh and represents great progress with an exciting project that will enrich the education, music and arts communities in the city and beyond. Royal Bank has almost 300 years of history since our inception in Edinburgh in 1727. The Dunard Centre’s close association with our iconic building at 36 St Andrew Square means this is a project that we are proud to be part of.”

Sir David Chipperfield, principal, David Chipperfield Architects, said: “Throughout the process of developing the design of the Dunard Centre we have embraced both the qualities and the challenges of working with such an extraordinary site. Embedded in the dense area of the Registry Lanes and also on the grand civic axis with Dundas House, the project marks the pivoting point between the New Town and St. James Quarter. Our ambition is to create a building of distinction that is respectful of its complex context while establishing a significant new cultural destination and place in this wonderful city.”

Among the musicians welcoming the announcement were Roddy Woomble, lead vocalist with Idlewild, who said: “It's always exciting to hear about a new arts and music venue opening in Edinburgh. Since I've known the city, many great venues have come and gone, but the Dunard Centre sounds like it will be here to stay - an ambitious, creative space that will encourage and showcase local talent, alongside national and international performers. New music is always going somewhere in Edinburgh and the Dunard centre will see that it gets there.”

The Proclaimers said: “The Dunard Centre would be a prestigious and fantastic cultural asset to the city.”

Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey said: “It’s great news that planning approval has been granted for this exciting and important new cultural venue for our capital. This is the first purpose-built concert venue in Edinburgh in more than 100 years and I know so many people in the city are looking forward to enjoying a first class cultural experience with an expanding number of amazing venues.

“The new concert hall is the cultural flagship of our City Region Deal and being in a central location with fantastic public transport connections, it will complement the wider transformation of the east end of the city centre alongside the newly opened Edinburgh St James Quarter helping to keep our city centre a vibrant and thriving destination.”

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