Community spirit at this year’s Hidden Door

Hidden Door is shining a spotlight on local community support projects, sending a message of resilience and social good through the arts.

Our multi-arts festival is set to bring an eclectic lineup of music, art, dance, spoken word and theatre to Granton Gasworks from September 15 – 19th. A community-led project at its very core, the festival is supported by, and will give a platform to, a variety of local social enterprises and community initiatives.

Among the DJ lineup this year is Turn The Tables, a not-for-profit social enterprise whose mission is to use DJing to change the lives of people affected by homelessness, including asylum seekers & refugees and at-risk youth. Turn the Tables run DJ workshops for vulnerable community members, giving them a creative outlet, a chance to socialise, and build careers in music. This year, four members of Turn the Tables will be taking to the booth at Hidden Door – DJ Sam (Ardas sounds), DJ John, DJ Henri and DJ Ryan

We make DJing accessible to everyone, empowering mental health resilience through life changing experiences from the first workshop to the main stage.

Robbie Tolson, Director of Turn the Tables

The festival’s focus on promoting local initiatives doesn’t stop at the music programming. On top of the selection of street food vendors at the festival, Social Bite will also be catering the event. Known for their advocacy in the fight against homelessness in Scotland, the organisation’s workforce is made up of 25% formerly homeless people, and 100% of their profits go to the charity. The festival site itself is right around the corner from the Social Bite Village, a temporary housing community designed to break the cycle of homelessness.

Three out of four DJs performing at Hidden Door are former residents of the Social Bite village, and all three began their DJ careers whilst living there. 

Henri was a member of the Creative Scotland-funded Turn the Tables homelessness DJ project, and he will be playing his first gig at this year’s Hidden Door. Henri lived in the Social Bite village from 2018-2021.

“I was there at some of the very first workshops and when TTT moved into their new studio I rejoined. This has really helped me learn how to play a full DJ set and I even look at music differently, I am so excited to now play my first proper gig at the hidden door festival this year.” 


Additionally, the warehouse exhibition space at Hidden Door will feature work from a selection of recent graduates from art schools across Scotland, selected from the Hidden Door Graduate Support Network. The Network was launched earlier this year to support recent visual arts graduates denied a physical show for their work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the festival hopes to continue to provide opportunities for emerging local artists into the future.

The festival itself is organised and run entirely by volunteers, including programming, site building, and stewarding during the event.

Throughout the build process, volunteer food has been provided by Scran Academy, a social enterprise which uses food and catering to combat poverty and empower young people, with support from Corra Foundation. Many of Scran Academy’s youth volunteers come from the local area of Granton, and they have been visiting the site regularly during the course of the build.

A fundamental part of what we do all year round is engaging and involving the local communities where our festivals happen. We want Hidden Door to be a welcoming and inclusive place that reflects the many interests and talents of the people who live, study and work in the area.

We’re really pleased to be working with incredible initiatives such as the Social Bite Village, who have so warmly welcomed us to their neighbourhood, and the fantastic Turn The Tables which is set to get everyone dancing together down at our Beach Bar. 

It’s been amazing to work with local organisations who have been so welcoming and supportive – folk such as Edinburgh Tool Library, Move On Wood Recycling and Granton Walled Garden to name a few. Quite simply, Hidden Door wouldn’t be the same without them.

Hazel Johnson, Hidden Door’s venue manager

About Hidden Door 2021

With last year’s festival cancelled due to the pandemic, the 2021 event is taking place mostly outdoors, in the shadow of the Granton Gasworks in North Edinburgh. Opening daily from Wednesday 15 – Sunday 19 September, the Granton Gasworks site will feature two stages for live music and other performances. The neighbouring warehouse will be home to the art exhibition and a number of performances. Hidden Door are working with Edinburgh College, who have provided access to the West Short Road site for this year’s festival.

The event will also provide a platform for students to get involved, gaining inspiration and experience to boost their future careers.

Edinburgh brewer Innis & Gunn is sponsoring this year’s festival and will be pouring a selection of their premium beers at pop-up bars across the Granton site. Hidden Door’s media partners for 2021 are The Skinny.