GARBAGE star Shirley Manson has urged a council to put music ahead of money – and save the “incredible jewel” of a building where she began her singing career.
Manson practiced at the Inch Community Centre in her home city of Edinburgh, before launching a singing career that launched her onto the world stage in the 90s.
But the 17th Century, A-listed building may be sold off as flats because owners Edinburgh Council can’t fund the £1m needed for repairs.
Now Manson, in an impassioned statement, has called directly on council bosses to save the centre which allowed her to begin her career – and preserve it for a new generation of Scottish musicians.
Manson said: “I am no politician. I am sure running a city is more complicated than I can possibly imagine.
“However it seems to me that the Inch Community Centre is an incredible jewel in Edinburgh Council’s crown.
“Earlier generation’s preservation of historical buildings such as this one is what makes Edinburgh the envy of cities around the globe.
“I understand preserving it will require an enormous undertaking that perhaps the council is loathe to invest in. However sometimes the value of things must not be, cannot be, judged in monetary terms alone.
“We must think of the future value of a building like this.
“Of the value it brings to our architecturally renowned city and of the service it can provide to so many Edinburgh musicians who are already struggling to find somewhere affordable where they can come together to practice their music in a serious and applied fashion.
“I urge Edinburgh Council to be creative in ways they have not yet imagined in an effort to keep this exquisite property in the hands of the people.”
Manson’s call comes in the midst of a campaign to save the centre – due to close in May.
It is understood that the property could be sold to private developers.
Chair of the Inch Community Association, Mark Mulgrew, said: “If you break up the community centre, you are breaking up part of the community. Where will these people go?”
“The problem we have is the council have not looked at any alternatives. They are simply trying to wash their hands of it.
“I think we have to look at other avenues such as community ownership or external funding. These things have not been explored by the council.”
Ian Murray, MP for Edinburgh South, has also joined the fight to save what he called “the heart of the local community for generations.”
He said: “I’m helping support the management committee and Inch Community Association in their quest to ensure the centre has a vibrant future.
“We’ve started a petition to ask the council to leave no stone unturned in the options for Inch House and allow the management committee to repair and grow the centre.
“It should not be closed or disposed off but invested in for the benefit of the current and future generations.”
Edinburgh Council is already under fire for proposed cuts to music funding in schools.
In December violin virtuoso Nicola Benedetti hit out at proposals to cut up to 75% of the cash sent to schools to pay for musical instrument tuition.
Benedetti called on the first minister to intervene in the case, but Sturgeon responded by saying the matter was a “council decision”.
A Council spokesperson said: “A full report on the condition of Inch House is being prepared and will be presented to councillors at the next education, children and families committee in May.
“However, from initial surveys it is clear that the building is in need of considerable work, and obviously the health and safety of our staff and of the public must take priority.
“Everyone is aware of the severe financial challenges currently facing the council so we have to carefully consider where our investment priorities lie, and this will be reflected in the forthcoming report.”