The City Region Deal’s cultural flagship project to create Edinburgh’s first purpose-built concert hall in over 100 years, got the green light to proceed last month when Councillors voted to grant planning permission. With the project now on its way to becoming a reality, we were delighted to reveal the venue’s name – Dunard Centre supported by Royal Bank of Scotland, in recognition of the huge contribution to this project from Dunard Fund.
I feel passionately that the Dunard Centre directly addresses what is needed for the city to flourish in the performing arts, to look to the future, not trying to replicate what other cities already have, but what other cities will come to want. It will be transformational in terms of the productions that can be programmed and in the audiences it can attract and is designed to be a venue for audiences of all ages, all backgrounds and for all kinds of music and performance.
With the creation of a 1,000-seat hall; complemented by a 200-seat studio; a large foyer for all-day informal performance; café/bar and a range of rooms for education, community outreach and conference activities – we aim to create a lively, cultural hub where everyone feels welcome. This is a big challenge, but not impossible for a city as vibrant and forward-looking as Edinburgh. The benefits it will bring to the whole region cannot be overstated - different kinds of music, audiences, performers, education, rehearsal and recording, all under one roof with the very best acoustics and technology and in a location easily accessible by both local and national public transport - this is a one off.
Over the last 100 years, many new performing arts venues and concert halls have been built around the globe, harnessing advancements in technology and in the acoustic excellence they can achieve. We are incredibly lucky to have the Usher Hall, but we are selling ourselves short as a capital city, not to offer a complementary venue of half its size, providing a completely different experience for both audience and performer. Through generous philanthropy, City Region Deal funding and a city centre location thanks to Royal Bank of Scotland, this lack of provision for Edinburgh and the South East of Scotland is something we can now put right. This is an opportunity for everyone to get behind the creation of the very best, most ambitious cultural project seen in Edinburgh for over a 100 years – what our growing region needs in its vision for 2050 and beyond.
Sir Ewan Brown, Chairman IMPACT Scotland.