School of Social and Political Science

Recovering Edinburgh’s cultural spaces during a global pandemic

Sub head

University of Edinburgh researchers are leading a project to tackle the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the city’s culture sector, creating new cultural events throughout and beyond the lockdown.


The first part of the project involves creating a new virtual walking tour of street art in Leith, for online audiences during lockdown. The second part will produce curated tours of cultural locations in Edinburgh beyond the city centre, for after the lockdown period. 

Dr Morgan Currie, a Lecturer in Data and Society at the School of Social and Political Science and project lead for the Edinburgh Culture and Communities Mapping Project, is working with Edinburgh City Council and local organisation LeithLate on the project. The aim is to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on arts and culture, provide a platform for people to enjoy an arts experience during the lockdown, and inspire interest in cultural events and locations for the post-lockdown period. 

Dr Currie said: “Edinburgh’s artists and culture industry will be severely impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown, from this year’s festivals cancelling all in-person live events, to the shuttering of major cultural hubs that artists rely on for studio and exhibition space.” 

To address this impact, Data Driven Innovation – a partnership between education, government and local authorities - awarded Dr Currie and the Edinburgh Culture and Communities Mapping Project an award of £13,000 for the work. The project - Art In/After Lockdown: Recovering Edinburgh’s Cultural Spaces – will be delivered in two parts, in partnership with Edinburgh City Council and LeithLate. 

Virtual walking tour with LeithLate

Part one is developing a virtual walking tour with LeithLate that will bring new online audiences to street art in Leith. This part of the project is based on LeithLate’s successful walking tour normally held during its annual festival. 

Dr Currie said: “Street art in Leith and other urban interventions are central for the cultural scene; the tour will feature a story-map map and Google street views of graffiti and murals combined with text and audio recordings of the artists.“ 

Exploring Edinburgh, beyond the city centre

Part two of the project combines data on cultural spaces with bus routes to produce curated tours that encourage residents and tourists to explore Edinburgh’s cultural assets beyond the city centre. Central to the tours are tour-guide pamphlets that can be physically printed and distributed on selected bus lines, showing cultural spaces within 500 metres of each bus stop. In addition, the team will curate a range of bike tour routes, again to encourage exploration beyond the more obvious city centre sights.