One of our very favourite Edinburgh Fringe venues, year-round arts space The Bongo Club, has been given four more months to find a new home, after its landlords, Edinburgh University, gave it until January to vacate its current building.
Launched in the 1990s by the Out Of The Blue arts organisation, originally in a space behind Waverley Station, The Bongo Club has operated from its current home on Holyrood Road since 2003. Previously a students’ union for the Moray House College, when Edinburgh University acquired the education institution it rented the space to the Bongo team, then facing eviction from their original base on New Street.
It has since become a popular venue for all kinds of arts and music events all year round, and a much loved Fringe venue during August, with comedians like Mark Thomas, Rob Newman and Simon Amstell all choosing to perform their in past years, having been attracted by the Bongo Club’s artistic ethos, which is probably best represented by its infamous late night festival cabaret show.
But earlier this year managers at the Club revealed that they would soon be evicted from the Holyrood Road space because University bosses were revamping the Moray House building and needed more classrooms. Coming so soon after the closure of another small arts venue in the capital, the Forest Cafe, many in Edinburgh’s year round cultural community feared the city would be left without performance spaces for smaller grass roots acts outside of August.
The Bongo Club team have since been working hard to find a new home and, despite the University’s promise to help with that process initially seeming a bit token gesture, word has it officials there have been more helpful of late. And last week it was confirmed that The Bongo Club would be able to use its current space through to January, despite initial plans to close the venue in September.
Those four months may be enough to save the whole operation, says manager Ally Hill. He told the Scotsman last week: “The extension to our lease gives us vital additional time to take forward promising partnerships to enable The Bongo Club to flourish in new premises”.
Details of this year’s Bongo Club Fringe programme, which includes Simon Amstell, Rosie Wilby and dance company Box Teatar, is online here.