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Usher Hall Soars into 2010 with Opening of New Wing

posted 25 Feb 2010, 02:23 by myEdinburgh Admin
Visitors to Edinburgh's number one concert hall will see a whole new side to the venue as the Usher Hall unveils its magnificent new wing to the public.

From Thursday 25 February, people will be able to explore the beautiful new addition to the grade A-listed building, which completes the second phase of a major refurbishment of the Lothian Road concert hall. Inside the glass-fronted wing, they will discover a new cafe/bar, a bigger and better box office area, topped by new hospitality spaces and re-sited and extended office accommodation.

The Usher Hall's refurbishment was made possible with the support of funding from the Scottish Arts Council, Scottish Executive Cities Growth Fund, Scottish Enterprise, Heritage Lottery Fund, private donations, trusts and foundations.

Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture Leader for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: "We are very excited to be unveiling this dazzling new wing at our much loved Usher Hall, now looking sensational after its refurbishment. Audiences have been flocking to the venue in their thousands since we reopened for the Edinburgh International Festival's opening concert and this event to unveil the brand new wing is the penultimate step towards the completed project in the summer. The Phase III landscaping works, which are progressing well, will really be the icing on the cake.

"This Administration is strongly committed to providing excellent facilities and opportunities to make culture as accessible as possible for all our residents and visitors, and our investment in the Usher Hall is a significant step towards this goal.

"We are grateful to all our funding partners, including the Scottish Arts Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Heritage Lottery Fund, for their assistance in helping us create a concert hall fit for the 21st century."

Since it reopened for the Edinburgh International Festival last August, audiences have been enjoying greatly improved facilities inside the Usher Hall itself, including:

  • better disabled access throughout the building
  • lift access to all floors
  • increased cloakroom and washroom facilities
  • new and improved bars on all levels

Currently, the final phase of work is ongoing - these landscaping works adjacent to the Usher Hall will create a pedestrianised, flexible space which will revitalise the area and lend it an appealing, 'arts quarter' ambience.

Iain Munro, Co-Director of Arts, Scottish Arts Council, said: "The Scottish Arts Council's National Lottery investment in this project was aimed at developing a world-class venue, with improved access for audiences with disabilities as well as outstanding facilities for the professional artists who make the Usher Hall such a pleasure to visit.  We are delighted that our investment has helped secure the future of the Usher Hall into the 21st century and beyond."

Pamela Woodburn, director of business infrastructure at Scottish Enterprise, said: "Edinburgh is a key tourism destination for Scotland and the Edinburgh International Festival is an event and brand that is recognised worldwide. The Usher Hall is the venue for the most prestigious concerts held during the EIF and therefore plays a key role in the economic success of Edinburgh's festivals programme."

Colin McLean, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, Scotland, which awarded the Council a grant of £846,000 towards the Usher Hall refurbishment, said: "Our grant was an important piece in the funding package that helped complete the successful restoration of one of Edinburgh’s most loved historic buildings. It will let more visitors than ever gain easier access to this outstanding venue, allowing them to enjoy concerts, performances and other contemporary cultural events in a building with a long and proud heritage."

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