An Exciting Future for St Mary’s Edinburgh

Superb news just in from Scotland as plans for the restoration of Edinburgh’s Old Royal High School on Regent Road as a world-class centre for music education and public performance are revealed.

What a wonderful site for music-making!

The site will be the new home for St Mary’s Music School that has long been envisaged, and the updated proposal brings together a network of partner organisations, including the Benedetti Foundation and IMPACT (International Music and Performing Arts Charitable Trust) Scotland with a shared vision of creating a new platform for musical collaborations, both within the building, online and out in the wider community.

in 2016 the Royal High School Preservation Trust received planning permission and listed building consent for widely acclaimed plans to conserve the iconic Thomas Hamilton masterpiece and secure its long term future by restoring its original use as a place for educating young people from across Scotland and beyond.

Since then The Trust has consulted on and revised some aspects of their design proposal to create a new National Centre for Music with clearly defined spaces for classical music education, community engagement and performance, with café, gallery and visitor centre, set in generous and fully accessible public gardens.

The project will be a catalyst for Scotland to fulfil its potential as a world leader in music education, creating an entirely new way for the nation to engage with and enjoy classical music and the arts. Excellence in accessibility and inclusion will be absolutely central to the ethos of how the Royal High School is used.

Public support for the proposals

A new independent poll commissioned by the Trust shows it is a popular choice, both locally and nationally. More than three quarters (76 per cent) of 1,622 respondents across Scotland agreed that a National Centre for Music is a suitable use for the building while two thirds (66 per cent) of respondents across Scotland agreed that the old Royal High should be used for cultural rather than commercial purposes. Support was greater still in Edinburgh, where 82 per cent of 533 local residents supported the building’s use as a National Centre for Music.

To facilitate this expanded vision and lock in the economic sustainability of the plans, the Trust has received increased funding now totalling £55 million to support capital costs and the centre’s long-term operation. Analysis by BOP Consulting predicts the project will contribute nearly £100 million to the Edinburgh economy over 30 years. The capital phase alone will generate over £30 million in net economic value, while the ongoing economic impact for the city is expected to be in the region of £3.7 million per annum. This is the equivalent of 342 jobs created in the first three years of the project.

“A once in a generation opportunity”

William Gray Muir, Chairman of The Royal High School Preservation Trust adds “We are enormously grateful to the Dunard Fund and Carol Colburn Grigor for their unfailing generosity toward not just the Royal High School Preservation Trust but other arts projects across Scotland. Their positive legacy will leave an indelible mark on Scotland’s cultural and economic landscape for generations to come.

“This remains one of the most exciting and important cultural developments in Edinburgh and indeed the whole of Scotland and it is essential that everyone understands what we are proposing both for the fabric of the building and its long term use. This is a once in a generation opportunity to shape a distinct cultural legacy that the whole of Scotland can be proud of!”

For more information visit the Royal High School Preservation Trust’s website