Bongo Club Under Threat

8th February 2012

Press Release: The Bongo Club under threat
Wednesday 8 February 2012
Despite being a beautiful, blossoming city of international renown and appeal that hosts the
biggest arts festival in the world, Edinburgh’s all year round independent music and arts venues
are few and far between.

At the heart of this scene since 1996, The Bongo Club is a nightclub, gig venue and all-round artistic
hub with a street-level-headed attitude and an international reputation. It is truly independent, as the
performance venue of local arts charity Out Of The Blue, which has an established track record as a
catalyst for creativity in Edinburgh. This has allowed The Bongo Club to put the sounds of the
underground and imaginative aspirations before the mighty dollar, encouraging the community to get
involved and The Bongo Club to do their own thing. A long standing stalwart of the Edinburgh Fringe
with a list of guests that reads like a ‘who’s who’ of cultural alternatives, the loss of this venue would be
of real detriment to the city.

However this could all too soon be the reality; its landlords (amongst the city’s biggest and certainly the
biggest host to festival venues) Edinburgh University have given The Bongo Club notice to quit. This
notice terminates the lease a whole year in advance of the agreed period.

To end the lease at this point jeopardises the work that has established Out Of The Blue and The
Bongo Club as vital Edinburgh institutions whose value is recognised and supported by The Scottish
Government, Edinburgh City Council, Creative Scotland and many other partners. To highlight the
relationship with the University; of the 67,795 audience members who attended the Bongo Club in
2011, at least 20,000 were Edinburgh University students. The Club has hosted events by over 100
different University societies, charities and theatre companies. As Edinburgh University Rector Iain
Macwhirter says;

I cannot believe that it is beyond the wit of Edinburgh University to find some accommodation for this
highly successful and groundbreaking community venture, which has done much to strengthen links
with the ordinary people of Edinburgh – the people who pay for the university through their taxes. The
university has a truly vast estate of buildings and surely some corner can be found. I say: ‘Save the

We have 7 months to ensure that this famous Edinburgh institution continues to flourish and protect the
vitality of the city. The preferred option is for the University to acknowledge the value of The Bongo
Club and to reverse its decision. Negotiations between the management of The Bongo Club and the
University currently indicate that the University have no intention to change their decision.
The situation is typically well summed up by one of The Bongo Club’s perennial performers,
broadcaster and comedian Mark Thomas;

The Bongo Club is a rare and wonderful thing, a club that encourages the best of its local artistic
community. During the Fringe it is a venue that works to promote new and exciting work that attracts
visitors and locals alike AND provides genuinely inspiring line ups and shows at properly affordable
prices. It has an ethos of experimentation and discovery and accessibility that is unique. It is part of the
artistic DNA of Edinburgh and to lose it would be an act of cultural self harming.

Ally Hill
Venue Manager
37 Holyrood Road
Edinburgh, EH8 8BA
+44(0) 131 558 8844

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