Edinburgh Festival Fringe venue Summerhall ready for the long haul

Theatres Trust / The Scotsman

A big hit on last year’s Fringe, Summerhall is just one of several August-only venues looking to become year-round operations

At Summerhall, once known to Edinburgh as the old Royal Dick Vet College, they’re rushing against a start-of-Fringe deadline to build a brand-new entrance to the huge building, all fresh wood and glass doors. It won’t replace the fine old stone doorway facing out towards the Meadows; but it will provide a new way in and out at busy times, complete with a wheelchair lift, and more space for a foyer and coffee bar.

And when the festival is over, Summerhall’s new entrance will still be there; a visible sign that the place which has become the most exciting new venue on the Fringe since its improvised debut last year, is not going away for the winter, but is set to become part of the city’s cultural landscape all year round.

It’s Rupert Thomson at Summerhall, though, who is ready to dive into an autumn programme – albeit a fairly fluid one – almost as soon as the festival is over, and that’s because he currently holds large positive balances of the two factors that are essential for success on the Fringe – cash and inspiration – and the one factor that makes it possible to spread that success through the year, which is a profound commitment to, and knowledge of, Edinburgh’s cultural scene.

“The potential here at Summerhall is just immense,” says Thomson. “We are lucky to have tremendously generous support from the owner of the building, Robert McDowell, who has created a company to buy Summerhall outright from the university, and financed the upgrading of the building, as well as creating a fund to support our programme.

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