Edinburgh cultural buildings go red to highlight festivals and events shutdown

Arts and cultural buildings across Edinburgh were bathed in red light to highlight the impact of the total shutdown of festivals and events.

Monday, 6th July 2020, 12:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th July 2020, 11:09 pm
Leith Theatre has been mothballed until the spring of next year due to the impact of pandemic and social distancing restrictions. Picture: Lloyd Smith
Leith Theatre has been mothballed until the spring of next year due to the impact of pandemic and social distancing restrictions. Picture: Lloyd Smith

Leith Theatre, the Festival Theatre, the King's Theatre, the Voodoo Rooms, Sneaky Pete’s all took part in the UK-wide "Light It In Red" campaign on Monday night.

The Hub, the headquarters of the Edinburgh International Festival on the Royal Mile, and the Edinburgh International Conference Centre were also transformed after the switch-on at 9pm as part of the campaign.

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It is raising the alarm over the number of companies said to be on the brink of collapse over the next few months without any work coming in.

Leith Theatre has been used for the Hidden Door Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival in recent years. Picture: Lloyd Smith

Around 25,000 businesses and half a million people across the UK are currently affected by the ban on indoor and concerts, festivals and live theatre.It is hoped social media images of the locked-up buildings bathed in red light will raise awareness of the fact an entire industry has been left “dormant” for months - and also “make a statement that can't be ignored.”

Unique Events, the Edinburgh-based company which has previously produced Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and Christmas festivals, free screenings for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and the city’s new Burns and Beyond Festival, has joined forces with audio visual firm Black Light to light up the buildings in Edinburgh as part of the campaign.

It was launched in the wake of growing fears about the long-term impact of social distancing rules, with events and festivals experts warning they are unlikely to return to normality until well into 2021.

The #LightItInRed event came the day after the UK government confirmed a £1.57 billion rescue package for the arts and cultural sector to help see it through the crisis; £97 million will be coming to Scotland through the Barnett Formula.

The Edinburgh International Conference Centre has attracted more than 1.5 million visitors since it opened in 1995. Picture: Unique Events

Last week the Scottish Government unveiled a £10m lifeline fund to help performing arts venues stave off the threat of insolvency, curb the need for job cuts and bring staff back off furlough.

Al Thomson, director of Unique Events, said: “We’re very pleased to have been able to help raise awareness of the crisis facing Scotland’s cultural landscape through the #LightItInRed campaign, showing support with colleagues, venues and event suppliers in the city, who without immediate action are in danger of collapse.

“The announcement of £97 million support for Scotland’s arts and heritage is of course hugely welcome, but as always, the devil is in the detail and we hope this support is delivered from the ground-up, including support for the industry’s essential supply chain, freelancers, and grassroots music venues, as well as our much loved theatres and large-scale organisations.”

Calder Sibbald, director of Black Light, said: “The events industry was the one of the first sectors to close due to Covid-19 and will almost certainly be one of the last to get back to anything near normality.

Sneaky Pete's in the Cowgate is one of Edinburgh's best-known grassroots music venues.

“The #LightItInRed campaign is of massive importance to our unique industry to let people know of our plight and to ask the Government for additional support in order to save businesses, full time jobs and support the many self-employed individuals who operate within the sector.

“When people think of the events industry they should also consider the wider economic impact of the industry onto sectors such as tourism and hospitality.”

Lynn Morrison, executive director of Leith Theatre, said: “Following our announcement last week that we must now remain closed through to the spring of 2021 in order to protect the business, it is timely that we light the theatre’s exterior architecture in red as part of the #LightItInRed campaign.

“It’s a fitting way to show the country our venue and entire sector is in danger of collapse.

The Voodoo Rooms, off St Andrew Square, plays host to year-round live music events.

“It is important to draw attention to the devastation Covid-19 has caused and to stand together with all of the creative companies across the UK to draw attention to our plight and to show the scale and impact this has had on the entire cultural sector. Bathed in red, Leith Theatre looks defiant.”

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