Venue doesn't go Belly-up

Fringe building resolves safety fears

Fears that the Sminoff Underbelly was too unsafe to operate as an Edinburgh Fringe venue have been resolved.

Fire chief had threatened to force the labyrinthine building to close unless expensive renovations were completed.

But now the venue’s artistic directors have issued a statement promising: “The safety of Edinburgh Central Library has been ensured.”

Last month, experts said the building needed £280,000 of work to bring it up to scratch.

The bill would have been prohibitively expensive, and scuppered the venue’s plans to establish itself as a major comedy venue since fire destroyed the nearby Gilded Balloon.

Artistic directors Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood said: “There were, as have been reported, issues relating to the safety of Edinburgh Central Library.

“After a series of constructive discussions with Edinburgh City Council and with the guidance of Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh council’s festival tsar, these issues have been resolved.

“The safety of Edinburgh Central Library has been ensured, and Smirnoff Underbelly is set to have its strongest year yet at the Edinburgh Fringe.”

Comics performing at the venue this year will include Stewart Lee, Rob Deering, Milton Jones, Robin Ince and Janey Godley.

Published: 20 May 2004

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