Edinburgh’s art scene is on track for a revolution thanks to plans that will see a forgotten tram depot in Leith make way for a new art hub.
After being left forgotten for more than 60 years, an Edinburgh tram depot off Leith Walk could soon become a hotpot and creative centre for artist. Work is set to start later this year on the site, which will receive £1.3 million in funding as part of a deal to help reinvent the area. The Scottish Government has contributed £530,000, whilst the Edinburgh City Council will be spending a cool three quarters of a million.
The large site of the former tram depot is planned to be knocked down and replaced with shipping containers, which will be offer valuable space for artists and “creative entrepreneurs”. It is thought that around 30 artists will be able to work in the space at any one time – a much needed resource for burgeoning talent that has previously been short of studio space.
But that’s not all. Studios, workshops, retail units and a social enterprise café will all form part of the hub, as will a street market.
Reconditioned wooden huts from Edinburgh’s German Christmas market on The Mound will be moved to the site as soon as the old buildings have been demolished. These temporary installations will be used until funding is gathered to create office buildings near the base of Leith Walk.
There are also plans to transform a current “at risk” building into a new community and business hub. Artists currently situated in the building – run by the arts organisation Out of the Blue – will move into the containers, allowing their office space to be upgraded for voluntary organisations, small businesses and public sector bodies.
Manager of Out of the Blue, Rob Hoon, has experience in creating studio space for budding artists. He converted the former drill hall on the nearby Delmany Street into a space for creative workers. Regarding the depot transformation, he said there is “huge demand for studio space in Edinburgh”. He also revealed that his company alone has “more than nine hundred people on our waiting list.”
“In the past, a lot of artists who came out of college in Edinburgh would just go to Glasgow because they couldn’t find any space, but the city is changing and now there is incredible demand.”
Others involved have spoken out about the excitement surrounding the project. Gavin Barrie, the council’s economic development convenor, said that the final product will “create a real buzz on Leith Walk.”
He also addressed the “critical shortage of space for artists and other creative entrepreneurs in Edinburgh.” According to Barrie, the space will deliver “vital services” to Leith which he describes as “one of the most densely populated and fastest growing places in Scotland.”
“It is fantastic to see Out of the Blue receive the support they need to develop Leith Walk studios and turn the entire area into a hub for the whole community. It is such a great location.”
With the imminent launch of this exciting new creative centre, there’s now more reason than ever to sink your teeth into all that Edinburgh has to offer. If you wish that you lived right in the heart of this most cultured and exciting city, why not take a tour of the luxury apartments here at Quartermile.
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