Bid To Save Picture House

Although it’s been shut since the turn of the year and slated to become a pub, a group including Scottish MPs has signed a petition to save Edinburgh Picture House.

Photo: Allen Rennie Photography /
Plays at The Picture House

MAMA had run the 1,500-capacity venue since buying it from Luminar Liquid Ltd. in spring 2008. Major pub chain JD Wetherspoon has applied to Edinburgh City Council to reopen the Picture House as one of its prime locations in Edinburgh, as it’s only a few hundred yards from Princes Street.

“The last thing this city needs is a key music venue, as well as the Edinburgh music scene, to be tarnished,” said Callum Mouat, who worked at the Picture House and raised the petition to save it as a music venue. “I refuse to stand by and watch decades of live music history be tarnished all in the name of a burger and a pint for £6.”

Mouat’s petition has collected more than 12,500 signatures, including those of 19 members of Scottish parliament. Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi, who has also opposed the loss of Picture House, has raised in parliament the issue of the large number of Wetherspoons applications for new outlets.

We have to pay attention to the experts here, and the experts in both health and anti-social behaviour, the police and the NHS, have argued against additional licenses in that area in the past,” he said.

Biagai has written to MSPs saying parliament should note the recent purchase of the Edinburgh live music venue, the Picture House, by JD Wetherspoon. He pointed out that the loss of the capacity to host musical performances would be a cultural and economic loss to the city.

“We didn’t close it down,” said a spokesman for JD Wetherspoon. “Wetherspoon bought the building after it was closed. In terms of the music, it’s not on the agenda, but things could change.”

Dr. Evelyn Gillan, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, told Edinburgh newspapers that the city already faced high levels of alcohol-related health and social harm that cost the city more than £221 million ($371 million) per year.

She said it would be a real cause for concern if a large-capacity pub is opened in an area with so many licensed premises.