Out of the Blue is 25

Thursday 2nd May 2019

Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust is celebrating 25 years of supporting the arts in Edinburgh. Springing from nowhere (hence the name!) into a small gallery space in the centre of Edinburgh in 1994, Out of the Blue now enlivens and animates five buildings in Edinburgh, including the legendary Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Leith and the iconic Bongo Club in the city centre. Since 1994, over two million people have come through our doors to work, create, exhibit, perform, eat, drink, dance, teach and learn.

Throughout our 25-year history we have seen many success stories from those using our spaces to bring their creative vision to life; from Young Fathers first meeting at the Bongo Club and now creating music at Out of the Blue’s Music Studios, to young people training in our cafe and now planning to run an urban cook school at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall.

We take on spaces and turn them into centres of imagination and enterprise, such as the Abbeymount Studios for craft and design in the old school at the top of Easter Road. We start enterprises such as Out of the Blueprint and run them with young people to offer income generating opportunities for them to create comics and exhibitions.

Out of the Blue accommodates over 200 artists in studios including 50 organisations/SMEs and designers, film companies, events companies, painters, theatre companies, photographers, ceramicists, textile workers, printmakers and musicians

In addition Out of the Blue run:

-5 public spaces for performance, rehearsal, music, exhibition, projects, events, classes, workshops, markets, cafe and club.

-4 enterprises; The Bongo Club, The Out of the Blue Drill Hall cafe, Out of the Blueprint and Out of the Blue Abbeymount Studios for craft makers.

-The Out of the Blue Drill Hall as a venue in the Edinburgh Festival, LeithLate, Puppet Animation Festival and Leith Festival.

-An exhibition venue for local, national and international artists work viewed by total of 2,000 members of the public per annum

-A Market venue for artists and local traders

-The Drill Hall café as a resource for the local community and as a training project for young people with 73,000 customers per annum

-The Bongo Club. Performance venue including live music, club, theatre, spoken word / poetry, film/video art, dance and comedy, practice and workshop facilities

Rob Hoon, Out of the Blue Manager said:

“Out of the Blue’s spaces resist classification. Our buildings are not simply artists’ studios, or ‘creative hubs’. Our spaces are unique, reflecting a model that has developed over 25 years, and reflect a hybrid of arts, participatory education, enterprise, creativity, and community development. There is cross fertilisation between these areas which support individuals and collective initiatives. This in turn has economic, health and educational benefits for individuals and their communities.”

Phil Denning, Chair of Out of the Blue Board of Directors said:

“As we look ahead to the next 25 years, we want to embed this creative ambition across the communities we work in, to continue to make spaces where everyone can flourish, and to harness the magic that Out of the Blue has already captured for so many people across the city.”

Ally Hill, Manager of The Bongo Club said:

“The Bongo Club has been pushing the boundaries of the Edinburgh scene since 1996 as a nightclub, live venue and all-round artistic hub with a street-level-headed attitude and an international reputation.  Through the loyal support of the community (and the Council), it’s overcome threats to its existence and is currently in its third incarnation, occupying the cavernous spaces below the Central Library, on Cowgate.  World class international talent perform throughout much of the year and the roll call of high profile names lining up to lend their support during the last ‘Save the Bongo’ campaign bears testament to this enduring international status.”  

Each Out of the Blue building has a creative purpose in its own right, but collectively they drive the growth of the Creative Industries in Edinburgh and Scotland by providing opportunities for employment, education and enterprise. The buildings provide spaces for studios, workshops, classes, exhibitions, music practice, recording, performance, rehearsal, events, meetings, theatre, music, visual arts, architecture, designers, screen printers, social enterprises, jewellery makers, and more.

Out of the Blue is an organisation that has made a significant impact on the city of Edinburgh and the communities it thrives in, as well as contributing to the wider arts sector in Scotland.

For an organisation to have started from a mission to find and develop creative space, to evolve as a sustained social enterprise with multiple branches is something to celebrate.




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