The future of the Tron has been secured with a lease granted by Scottish Heritage Buildings Trust to Scottish Design Exchange (SDX) for three years.

SDX will use the building as an exhibition space and market for Scottish commercial artists.

Opening on 1 July the retail space will hold work by more than 20 artists, designers and craftspeople. It will be open seven days a week and there will be events and exhibitions from time to time.

The building closed as a church in 1952 and was empty for half a century, prompting Historic Environment Scotland to include it on their Buildings At Risk Register. More recently it was used by Edinburgh World Heritage but closed in 2020 due to the pandemic.

SDX has generated more than £4 million for their tenants in George Street and at their other outlet in Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow. The organisation is a community interest company which provides a high street presence for independent artists and craftspeople.

Lynzi Leroy CEO of SDX

Chief Executive of SDX, Lynzi Leroy, said she has been inundated with demands from artists to showcase their work on the Royal Mile site.

She said: “The Tron Kirk is on one of the UK’s busiest thoroughfares and we are delighted at having the opportunity to use this prize location to showcase the best original Scottish artwork.

“As well as during the busy tourist season, it also benefits from a huge influx of visitors to the city during the annual festivals, concerts and conferences and rugby internationals. 

“We think it is important that tourists get to see the high quality of output from independent producers in Scotland and we have had a huge demand from our artists for space in the building.”

“We want to have a good mix of different artists and producers – including painters, printers, designers, jewellery makers and ceramicists – to ensure they are not competing with one another. 

“They also need to be businesses of a certain size to ensure that they have the capacity to keep up with the level of demand 

“I have spoken with the CEO of the Scottish Heritage Buildings Trust (SHBT) about doing other events and allowing to have our artists have their work exhibited in some of the older buildings that they are responsible for.

“It’s a really nice story that we, as a social enterprise, are partnering with a heritage body to showcase the work of some of Scotland’s best and most creative talent.”

Tenants will pay a fixed fee to SDX to rent a space, and preference will be given to those who have already shown their works in an SDX space.