Ever been to Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh, and wondered what the building next door with the sign ‘‘ART’’ sign was all about?
Well, it does what it says on the wall.
St Margaret’s House is home to a remarkable colony of creative artists – 200 workshops over seven floors.
In any other city it would be celebrated, supported and nurtured. In Edinburgh they want to sell it off for yet more student accommodation and shops.
As ‘visions’ go this one is desperately dull, banal and is simply not needed.
The building is privately owned and has just been flogged for £15m to a property group which spouts buzzwords like ‘‘sensitive regeneration’’ while then delivering the sort of blueprint which fills your heart with utter despair.
They talk of creating facilities ‘‘for the benefit of the community.’’
Here’s a newsflash for Caledonian Trust and Drum Property Group – the building already IS a fantastic facility for the community.
Someone please staple that message to their foreheads so they see it in the mirror every morning.
Over the past decade, Edinburgh Palette has filled the seven floors of a frankly, ugly looking 1970s office block, that no-one else wanted, with over 200 workshops and bases for a vast array of creative folk.
Its open days are hugely popular, and it is only by exploring the corridors and popping into the never ending rooms that you fully appreciative how much goes on inside this building.
Where else would you find a judo club next to a dance base, let along entire floors filled with healers and counsellors, painters and photographers, a theatre studio and a ceramics expert, plus a host a host of community groups?
It’s the very sort of initiative a city such as Edinburgh – home of the world’s greatest arts festival – should be moving heaven and earth to protect.
Without the Edinburgh Palette, this building would have sat empty and unloved for the last ten years – a true blot on the community landscape.
The office block was planned originally as a hotel for the city’s Commonwealth Games before becoming home to the Registers of Scotland. They then shifted next door, but their logo can still be seen on the corridor’s carpets.
To remove a decade of work at a stroke is morally wrong, so Edinburgh City Council has a vital role to play here.
It too talks endlessly of regeneration, of bringing improvements to its communities.
So, here’s a direct challenge – step in and protect the Edinburgh Palette.
Give the creative artists, community groups and local organisations the assurance that they are safe – and then work with the developers to embrace the colony and work its plans around, or, even better, with them.
Stand up for the communities you are there to represent and show some real leadership. For once ...
There is something very special going on within St Margaret’s House – something worth a damn sight more than a £15m price tag