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Edinburgh’s Bongo Club to take on Underbelly space outside Fringe

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Leading independent Edinburgh venue, the Bongo Club, has been granted a temporary licence to occupy the space underneath the city’s Central Library until June 2014.


The City of Edinburgh Council has agreed to the plan which will see the Bongo move into the Cowgate space when it leaves its current home at Moray House in January. The area is occupied by the Underbelly venue during the Edinburgh Festival Finge and Bongo would have to return the space during August.


Bongo venue manager Ally Hill told The Stage: “We are glad that the council has agreed for us to take over the space but there is a lot of work to be done from our side of it – as well as working out how we can make it pay for itself over that time scale. We would have to give it back for the fringe, but we have already been talking to Underbelly about some kind of partnership.”


The licence will run until June 2014 when it will move onto a month-to-month basis. The vaulted area underneath the library and through into the adjacent buildings on India Street – which became C Nova during this summer’s fringe – is the subject of a long-term £76m plan from the CEC to create a literary complex centred around the library.


Granting of the licence is also subject to the Bongo Club obtaining listed building consent, planning permission for temporary occupation and a full alcohol licence. As part of the agreement they will improve the current condition of the building and will pay the council 5% of their trading profit for 2013.


Hill added a note of caution: “There is a lot of work to be done to move from a temporary licence to a full licence. Dampness, ventilation and fire exits are issues which need attention.


“The venue has not been fully occupied for many years and the fabric needs to be worked on. Which is part of the appeal to the council, providing year-round help with the state of the place, as Underbelly only occupy it for one month of the year.”

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