Hidden Door - Transform the Old Royal High School

by Hidden Door in Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Hidden Door - Transform the Old Royal High School

Total raised £20,914

raised so far

+ est. £2314.75 Gift Aid



Help us to open up the Old Royal High School and transform it into an incredible venue for emerging artists.

by Hidden Door in Edinburgh, United Kingdom

We're still collecting donations

On the 12th April 2022 we'd raised £20,754 with 250 supporters in 29 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

 New stretch target

One of the key aspects of the project will be unlocking the gates on Regent Terrace. The gates are an original architectural feature, but are currently in a poor condition, suffering from rusting through years of disuse and cannot be opened. Your donations would help us to fund the essential repairs needed to the iron gates.

Conserving and repairing the gates will be key to allowing large numbers of the public to access the site. Reinstating this entrance to the building will also allow visitors to experience the approach as was intended by the architect – one that has been lost, as well as allowing for the site to be safely locked and secured!

By helping us to conduct work like this, the legacy of your donation will build towards the future of the building as part of the National Centre of Music.


In June 2022, Hidden Door will stage a ten day multi-arts festival at the iconic Old Royal High School in Edinburgh, bringing it to life, filling its spaces with live music, contemporary dance, theatre and spoken word events that reflect some of the most exciting emerging talent in Scotland. 

After decades of disuse, there is a huge amount of work needing to be done to the venue to get it ready for the festival. We want you to be part of this amazing story and to help us to raise money to help us transform the site into an incredible venue for emerging artists and audiences! 

Who are we?

Hidden Door is a volunteer-led arts charity that organises the Hidden Door Festival, an alternative, multi-arts festival, which was set up to support and nurture new creative talent in Scotland. 


We transform disused, neglected and unusual urban spaces in Edinburgh into temporary festival venues, which provide a platform for emerging creative practitioners working in a range of disciplines, visual art, theatre, music, dance, film and spoken word.

The festival has steadily grown in size and reputation since 2014, when we cleared out the abandoned Market Street vaults to run a 9-day arts festival focused on showcasing local creative talent. In 2015 and 2016 the festival moved to a hidden courtyard behind Kings’ Stables Road, attracting over 12,000 visitors to experience a wealth of art, poetry, theatre, cinema, dance and music. 


In 2017 and 2018 the festival breathed new life into the old Leith Theatre, attracting rave reviews and critical praise for our role in resurrecting “Scotland’s best new live music venue” and transforming the building into the major arts venue the city needs. Continuing the festival’s tradition of discovering forgotten spaces, the festival also took up residency in Leith’s empty and derelict former State Cinema building, just around the corner.


Following a farewell weekender at Leith Theatre in 2019, and a quiet 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, we opened up the epic Granton Gasworks in north Edinburgh in 2021. In the shadow of the iconic Victorian gas holder we brought live music and art back. We also transformed a nearby disused warehouse into a vast exhibition and performance space as part of the festival.


Hidden Door at the Old Royal High School

This year, Hidden Door is delighted to announce that we will be bringing the Old Royal High School on Calton Hill to life for a ten day festival of live music, visual art, dance, theatre and spoken word.

The Old Royal High School is a building of immense significance to a number of communities. It is a category A listed neo-classical architectural landmark of national architectural, cultural and historical significance, and at various points in its 200 year history been a school, a potential parliament, offices, a debating chamber and gallery displaying art from the city collection. 

Since the Royal High School vacated the building in 1968, the property has mostly lain empty and unused, but in 2022 the doors will be thrown open by Hidden Door, kickstarting a summer of activity at the site, before work begins to transform it into Scotland’s new National Centre for Music. 


Hidden Door specialise in making creative meanwhile uses happen, bringing together communities, artists, performers, and new audiences to the space, temporarily bringing it to life and leaving a legacy for future access and engagement. This summer we will fill its empty halls and corridor of the Old Royal High School with sound, lights, music, art, dance and plenty of surprises along the way. Inside the vast building, forgotten rooms will be transformed into performance spaces and given over to artists to fill with installations and audience will be encouraged to explore the myriad of passageways, corridors, nooks and crannies that make up this remarkable building and to celebrate Scotland’s exciting new and emerging creative talent.


We will utilise our experience of creating positive momentum towards the repair and renovation of historic spaces to leave a legacy for the future of the building as part of the National Centre for Music, who will benefit from any work we do to start the journey towards bringing the building back into permanant use.

Why we need your help

After decades of disuse and gathering dust, there is a huge amount of work needing to be done to the venue to get it ready for the festival. We have an enormous amount of experience of transforming disused buildings from our previous festivals, but every new site brings new challenges. The Old Royal High School is set to be one of our biggest yet and we can't wait to get stuck in. 

One of the biggest challenges we face as a small volunteer-led charity is funding -  transforming empty and neglected buildings into exciting festival venues isn't cheap! Your crowdfunding contributions will allow us to afford all the things that go into helping us to throw open the doors of the Old Royal High School. 


At a basic level, we need the equipment and supplies to first tidy up the venue after years of disuse and make it safe. Our team of amazing volunteers give their time, passion and energy to thoroughly empty, clean, sweep, mop and wipe down the site, and we will use your contributions to help us buy all the supplies needed to ensure that the venue is looking its very best!


In addition, all of the equipment and infrastructure to make the festival happen needs to be hired or built from scratch, including lighting, sound, projectors and bars to ensure each space is as impressive and as high quality as expected. In addition, we need to sort out the boring but absolutely essential stuff such as toilets, security, insurance & licensing etc.


Finally, your contributions will help us to fully dress and transform the Old Royal High School into a dynamic and vibrant venue! In doing so, we will not only be doing the best for our artists, but your contributions will help us to do justice to this incredible building and allow it to be opened up to the public to explore, discover and enjoy what we have created for them. 

How can I help?

Hidden Door is a volunteer-led charity, with our work funded through ticket sales, sponsorship and fundraising. All money goes straight back into the festival and paying our creative contributors. We work hard to attract funding from as many different streams as possible including through sponsorships and grant applications but none of this is guaranteed. 

This year we are excited to announce that our project is part of the Creative Scotland Crowdmatch - we are 1 of 20 successful creative projects in Scotland that have the opportunity to win a share of £80,000 in match funding, which means your donations could be doubled! There are a few milestones that need to be reached in order to achieve this


Milestone 1

If we successfully raise £1,000 in pledges Creative Scotland will match that £1,000 and add it to our total, bringing our total to £2,000!

Milestone 2

If we raise a further £1,500 from pledges - bringing our total fund to £3,500 - Creative Scotland will match this and add £1,500 to our fund, taking our new total  to £5,000.

Milestone 3

If we raise a further £2,500 - bringing our total fund to £7,500 - Creative Scotland will again match this and add £2,500, taking our total fund to £10,000.

Milestone 4

The final milestone is raising a further £5,000 - bringing our total fund to £15,000 - Creative Scotland will once again match this and add another £5,000, taking the  total to £20,000!

This would be a phenomenal amount of money, and would allow us to both stage an incredible festival but also to help the Old Royal High School take another step forward on its journey to becoming part of Edinburgh's cultural landscape. 

You can support us and hep achieve these milestones by donating any amount you can afford! Any and all support is appreciated and all pledges made come with a giant thanks, and your name will be included on the supporters page of our website.

If the warm fuzzy glow of helping us to stage an amazing festival and supporting emerging artists isn’t enough, we also have a range of rewards to say thank you - some are limited, so get in quick, so you don't miss out! You can mix and match the rewards that appeal to you, or of course, donate without rewards if you like. 

If you can't afford to donate right now, you can still help out by sharing this Crowdfunder project with your friends, family, and people you think would be interested!

We are grateful for whatever support you may be able to offer us, and we hope to see you at the Old Royal High School in June!


This project offered rewards

£200 or more

Become a Friend of Hidden Door

Lets be friends! Become a friend of Hidden Door and receive four tickets to any night of the festival. In addition, we’d like to invite you to an exclusive invitation only event with live musical performances during the festival and a ‘Meet the Artists’ event, to be held ahead of the festival. Friends will also receive a VIP pass for a discount on food and drinks during the festival.

£1 or more

A huge thank you!

A huge thank you for supporting us! Your name will be added to the list of supporters on our website!

£10 or more

Feature on our thank you wall

Your name will be added to the list of supporters on our website and will be proudly on display on our thank you wall installation at the festival!

£40 or more

Old Royal High School Guided Tour

Be some of the first to see inside the Old Royal High School! If you don't mind a bit of dust - we'd love to invite you and a friend on a small group guided tour to have a sneaky peak inside the Old Royal High School, before we transform it for the festival. Dates will be confirmed nearer the time.

£100 or more

Weekend Pass

Help support us and have fun at the same time! Grab a weekend pass with tickets valid for two weekend nights, a behind the scenes tour plus a food and drink voucher for each night on us to say thank you! (Weekend passes are valid for one Friday night, one Saturday night ticket, either weekend)

£500 or more

Hidden Door Patron

Become our patron! Receive our undying gratitude and a pair of full festival passes, so you and a friend can enjoy every night of the festival in style! In addition, we’d like to offer you an early access guided tour of the site, and invite you to an event with live musical performances, a patrons only reception, and a ‘Meet the Artists’ event. Patrons will also receive two VIP passes for discounts on food and drink during the festival.

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