Greenside has left its Infirmary Street base in a dramatic and enterprising move to the New Town into the premises of The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) on George Street.
A dramatic and enterprising move to the New Town
The spectacular RSE building by architects David Bryce and William Burn dates from 1843 with interior modifications carried out in the twentieth century and is a far cry from the tired and dated old school building that currently doubles as Edinburgh’s Adult Learning Centre. That building became unavailable post-2023 and as it was earmarked to house the Fringe Community Hub on a year-round basis. Finding new premises became an urgent mission for co-directors Darren Neale and Tara Stapleton. As to where they would end up became a major topic of speculation for devotees of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and those who had a degree of affection for the old venue, in which so many companies had performed.
In 2023 the Greenside programme was the third largest collection of work at the Fringe. 1 in 10 Theatre shows listed in the Fringe programme were held at their venues with Infirmary Street hosting the majority of them. Without a replacement venue, the organisation would have been left with just Riddles Court, which, with the new Pickle Studio would leave them with just four rooms, given that they also could not return to Greenside@Nicolson Square in 2024 due to substantial planned building work.
Now they will take over the imposing three-storey RSE that is overlooked by the statue of King George IV. It’s a spectacular example of architecture in the Italian Renaissance style, complete with Doric columns and a consoled copper dome that is surmounted by a bronze statue of Prudence by Penny Portsmouth, among its many features. To be known as Greenside @George Street it will have six spaces under one roof and provide the impetus to embark upon a new vision for the organisation.
Speaking of the move the Directors have said, "We are immensely proud of what we have achieved over almost 20 years operating at the Fringe and we will continue to offer an Open Access venue where anyone can walk onto one of our stages”. They estimate that over 100 shows will be performed @GeorgeStreet in 2024.
Speaking of the new partnership, Professor Sarah Skerratt, RSE Chief Executive said: "The Royal Society of Edinburgh has one mission – to make knowledge useful – and our Fellows and staff seek to do this for the benefit of society at large. In partnering with Greenside and preparing to work to support the Fringe – a world-famous arts festival synonymous with Edinburgh – we are able to support the arts in the same way."
Adopting the new premises will also take some pressure off the overcrowded South Bridge and the Old Town in general, albeit in a small way. Perhaps more significantly it will provide a further incentive to cross the divide and spend time in the New Town. Reviewers and audiences alike might be more inclined to spend a day there doing a circuit of shows that includes other venues in the area or even just work their way through one day’s offering @GeorgeStreet.