Revised plan

Trust unveils music venue vision for former school

Proposed auditorium

A revised plan to create a National Centre for Music in the former Royal High School in Edinburgh has been unveiled by the organisation set up to protect the building.

The Royal High School Preservation Trust (RHSPT) has received a £45 million grant from the Dunard Fund to transform Thomas Hamilton’s building which overlooks the city from the foot of Calton Hill on Regent’s Terrace.

Having been largely unused for more than half a century, it will be repurposed for education, community engagement and performance, with fully accessible public gardens, a restaurant and other facilities. There had been plans for the School of Music to relocate from its premises in the Roseburn area.

Bar and restaurant facilities will be included

The main hall which was once designated for the devolved Scottish Assembly will be turned into a 300-seat auditorium. Other performance, rehearsal and break-out spaces will be created.

The plans, long in fruition, come as RHSPT seeks to appoint a new chair to succeed William Gray Muir who steps down after eight years in the role. The new chair will lead the progress towards the Board’s vision to return the Thomas Hamilton building back to viable public use, thereby enriching both Edinburgh’s heritage and Scotland’s cultural landscape.

There will be meeting areas

Carol Grigor, of Dunard Fund, said: “The National Centre for Music will take its place confidently in Edinburgh’s cultural landscape, building on the city’s world-leading strengths as a UNESCO World Heritage City, a festival city and a forward-looking city that creates opportunity.

“Dunard Fund is delighted to fund such a culturally significant project and one that will leave a lasting legacy not just for the Edinburgh region but for Scotland as a whole.”

Colin Liddell, trustee added: “Dunard Fund and the board are very grateful to Willie Gray Muir for his leadership in creating the amazing opportunity and setting our vision for the future.”

Royal High School terrace
A terrace will offer views over the city

Grant Mackenzie, CEO of the Royal High School Preservation Trust, said: “Our aspiration is for the National Centre for Music to become a world leading cultural venue for musicians, no matter their background.

“The new National Centre for Music will engage teachers, community music organisations and professional performers to inspire the joy of music, nurture skills and foster innovation. Thanks to the generosity of Dunard Fund, we’re progressing to make this vision a reality.”

A revised planning application for the new plans is due to be submitted by early 2024. Council Leader Cammy Day said: “We are aware of the proposed change to the scheme and remain supportive of a project which will preserve a key historical building in the city.”

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