The Tolbooth is Stirling’s vibrant and contemporary music and arts venue in the heart of the old town in Stirling city centre.
The Tolbooth and its cultural offering are at the centre of Stirling’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025. Showcasing a commitment to ongoing investment in both venue and programme helped shape Stirling’s bid which has seen its subsequent longlisting. The profile and opportunities that UK City of Culture can provide to Stirling’s thriving culture and arts venues, including the Tolbooth, is significant. Stirling is proud to be Scotland’s sole representative through to the next round.
A year round programme features music from established artists of all genres, as well as providing a platform for upcoming artists and bands to perform and grow. In addition to a music offering, comedy, film, talks, theatre and exhibitions are regular features of its programme. It also offer a diverse range of creative learning opportunities with classes and workshops that are open for all.
All this happens in a stunning Category ‘A' listed building with several multi-use meeting and performance spaces, a recording studio, and a thriving cafe bar, not to mention a history dating back to the 17th century. With a chequered past that includes its use as a courthouse and jail, it’s no surprise that the venue lends itself to a fair few tales and ghost stories. This depth of history and associated mystery adds to the venue’s atmosphere and drama, which, coupled with its intimate layout, has helped establish Tolbooth Stirling as one of the best small venues in Scotland and beyond.
Over the last 18 months, and thanks to an array of future proofing funding from Stirling Council and the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), the Tolbooth, has secured its ability to remain at the forefront of culture. Three pieces of investment have been key to this:
Tolbooth Digital Gallery
In 2020, Tolbooth was fortunate to receive Stirling Council, Capital Programme funding. This meant not only bringing the Tolbooth Gallery up to date in terms of gallery kit out for basics like flooring and black out facility, but also investing in state of the art technology such as a high definition video wall, display screens, high resolution projection equipment, 360 cameras, surround sound system and sound mapping technology. This investment means Tolbooth Gallery will continue to support local artist and events such as the recent photography exhibition in partnership with Stirling Photography Festival, Scene Stirling’s Digital Commissions Exhibition, and a new media installation consisting of 2 works by Semiconductor as part of Stirling Science Festival.
Tolbooth Recording Studio
Again through Stirling Council Capital Programme Funding, Tolbooth Recording Studio has received a substantial upgrade, bringing every step of the audio recording process bang up to date. The aim was to bolster and enhance the existing strengths of the studio, bring some elements up to date, and increase the scope for creativity in the recording process. A brand new Audient ASP4816 Analogue Recording Desk lies at the heart of the upgrade, alongside a powerful custom built audio production PC connected via Universal Audio Apollo interfaces. A vastly increased VST plugin library and additional analogue outboard equipment has been brought in, complementing the existing range of boutique and industry standard microphones. This new studio set up has the power, stability and flexibility to adapt to any project and musical style, and to deliver the highest sound quality.
The experiences and challenges through COVID-19 meant a sharp learning curve for the team at the Tolbooth. Quickly adapting the venue’s cultural offering to the digital space during the pandemic, meant the successful delivery of an arts programme for the people of Stirling, and further afield, to enjoy from home. One major hurdle was the low level broadband available at the time, which prevented the team from delivering some events as live streams. A successful bid to Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport ( DCMS), funded Tolbooth’s Gigabit Capable Connection, giving the venue access to super-fast broadband speed.
2022 will recognise 20 years since The Tolbooth opened, and the ongoing investments into its technology, fabric and facilities will mean that it is well equipped to provide a platform for the arts in Stirling, as well as a Grade A venue for years and years to come.