November 3, 2017
Multi-arts festival Hidden Door will return to Leith Theatre in 2018, its organisers have announced today, following the huge success of this year’s festival which welcomed over 13,000 visitors into the stunning art deco building. Continuing the festival’s tradition of discovering forgotten spaces, the festival will also take up residency in Leith’s empty and derelict former State Cinema building.
The festival breathed new life into the disused Leith Theatre back in May and June 2017, with ten days of music, visual art, theatre, cinema, spoken word and dance attracting rave reviews and critical praise for resurrecting “Scotland’s best new live music venue”. Overwhelming public support, combined with the huge untapped potential of the space, meant that it was an easy decision for the festival’s organisers to return for a second year.
David Martin, Creative Director of Hidden Door, said “This year’s festival left the public – not to mention the Hidden Door team and contributors – wanting more. Leith Theatre has enormous potential to be the venue the city is crying out for, and we can’t wait to continue the journey with the Trust and everyone involved in bringing it back to life permanently.”
Jack Hunter, the Chair of Leith Theatre Trust added, “Leith Theatre Trust is delighted that the Hidden Door Festival will be returning to Leith Theatre in 2018. Next year marks a developing partnership approach between us and we will be working together to gain funding so that we can regenerate the amazing art deco building that is Leith Theatre. Hidden Door really helped put us on the map for a lot of people in 2017 and we’re excited that we’ve both made the List’s Top 100 side by side at 24 and 25. We’re looking forward to showcasing the huge range of performing and visual arts in Hidden Door in 2018 to a large and enthusiastic audience.”
Continuing the festival’s tradition of discovering forgotten spaces, the team has also revealed that they plan to use the former State Cinema building, just around the corner on Great Junction Street, as an additional venue in 2018. Opened in 1938, the building operated as a cinema until the 70s before it was converted into a bingo hall and, subsequently, a nightclub.
Abandoned for over a decade and now owned by Edinburgh property developers Glencairn Properties, who intend to redevelop the building, the team believes it has found an ideal temporary space to expand its ambitious programme for the festival’s fifth edition.
Speaking about the expansion to the State Cinema, Venue and Site Team Leader Hazel Johnson said: “There’s a lot to do there, but Hidden Door has always been up for the challenge and this felt like the perfect addition to our plans for the theatre just around the corner. The developers have been very open to the possibility of using the cinema, and it’s a great match for our skills in bringing spaces back to life. Now, more than ever, we’re going to need the people of Edinburgh and Leith to get on board and support us to make something incredible happen in Leith next May”.
Commenting on the plans to add the State Cinema as a venue to this year’s Hidden Door programme, Daryl Teague, director of Glencairn Properties, said: “The cinema building, originally designed by architect Sir James Miller, first opened in December 1938 as part of a multi-use leisure development. It’s had a number of different uses over the years and played an important part in the Leith community. It’s fitting that this incredible building, that’s sadly been left to ruin over recent years, will provide a backdrop for the arts in Edinburgh. We’re delighted to help play our part in supporting the Hidden Door festival and look forward to seeing the space transformed once again.”
Hidden Door is an arts organisation which aims to open up urban spaces as a platform for new and emerging artists, musicians, theatre makers, film makers and poets. Through organising temporary events Hidden Door works to showcase new work and create engaging environments for the public to experience, explore and discover.
Hidden Door is volunteer run and not for profit, with the festival funded through ticket sales, sponsorship and fundraising. Hidden Door also applies for grants and any money received goes straight back into the festival and its creative contributors.
The festival has steadily grown in size and reputation since 2014, when it cleared out the abandoned Market Street vaults to run a 9-day arts festival focused on showcasing local creative talent. In 2015 the festival moved to a hidden courtyard behind Kings’ Stables Road, and returned to the same site in 2016, attracting over 12,000 visitors to experience a wealth of art, poetry, theatre, cinema, dance and music. In 2017 the festival breathed new life into the old Leith Theatre, attracting rave reviews and critical praise for its role in resurrecting “Scotland’s best new live music venue”.
David Martin, Creative Director of Hidden Door, said: “Edinburgh is a city busy with festivals but Hidden Door offers something different, opening up new spaces for new artists and creative talent to bring something fresh to the mix, celebrating innovation and experimentation in the arts. 2018 will continue this ambition and we look forward to presenting the best Hidden Door yet next May, returning to the wonderful Leith Theatre as well as hopefully venturing into exciting new territory at the old State Cinema.
An “inspiring and successful festival” which “perfectly demonstrated the capabilities of the gorgeous old Leith Theatre as a living, breathing concert venue”. “Ad-hoc but ingeniously curated art and performance” – David Pollock, The Scotsman
A “minor miracle […] a long-neglected building has undergone a remarkable renaissance”. – Brian Ferguson, The Scotsman
“With each step further into the depths of this abandoned masterpiece, the building grows wilder. Each corner, every space reveals something new” – Amy Taylor, The Skinny
A “nomadic cauldron of creativity which is unlikely to sit still for long […] a sprawling village of alternative culture” – Neil Cooper, The Herald
A ”riot of noise and colour” – Mike Wade. The Times
“Get along to Hidden Door as often and as soon as you can.” – Just For Culture