FAR from boosting tourism in Palm Beach, the presidency of Donald Trump with his “Winter White House” at Mar-a-Lago has, apparently, had the effect of discouraging the annual migration from the North East of the US to Florida for the winter. The resort was created to be a bolt-hole for Presidents in the Sunshine State, but Presidents had shunned it and it has only become such because Trump bought it before he was elected.

Now, however, the security clampdown that paralyses the area whenever he is in residence has discouraged the “snowbirds” – as the older New Yorkers and Bostonians with their own summer palaces in the south are known. Fortunately the President was in Washington DC when the Royal Scottish National Orchestra was touring there, so audiences were not affected, but chatting to venue staff was informative about just how seasonal business is for the lavish theatre/concert halls the musicians visited. The remarkable Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Sarasota Bay on the Gulf coast, which styles itself “the world’s only purple seashell-shaped theater”, which is difficult to argue with (and it is very purple both inside and out), does not close entirely over the summer months, but it does go into a state of care-and-maintenance hibernation with a skeleton staff, available if promoters want to use it, but not used much.

Only in very lean times do theatres and concert halls in the UK choose to “go dark” as the jargon has it, but the year-round programming of most venues in Scotland is a relatively new thing. Go back 30 years or so and there was a real lull in cultural activity in July when the arts pages of The Herald would be filled by long preview pieces for productions coming up at the Edinburgh Festival in lieu of anything much for critics to review, but these days there is no quiet period in the calendar.

At the same time, the appetite for new buildings for the arts seems to be insatiable. The long saga of Edinburgh’s Hole-in-the-Ground and the capital’s aspiration to have an opera house, and the beauty contest between theatre companies to decide who would occupy the auditorium created as a “planning gain” alongside new offices for the financial sector is a very different era altogether. This past week we have had the Scottish Government OK for the creation of a new film studio complex in the foothills of the Pentlands at Straiton and, also reported in Tuesday’s Herald, the news that the former director of English National Ballet Peter Schaufuss plans to create a bespoke performance space for dance in the A-listed St Stephens Church in Stockbridge that most people still associate with Wolfgang Hoffmann’s ground-breaking Aurora Nova programmes of radical work during the Festival Fringe.

After long years of lamenting the lack of a suitably-sized concert hall for the only national performing arts company based in Edinburgh, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the SCO’s wealthy friends are on the road to building a new facility off St Andrew’s Square at the East End of the city centre, while Scottish Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop announced a plan to revitalise the Queen’s Hall, where it performs most of the time. The Fringe does still create lots of temporary theatre spaces in August, but it and the International Festival firstly occupy the existing year-round provision in the city. There simply is not the need to make a venue of every school and church hall as used to be the case.

What is true of Edinburgh is also true of the nation at large. The injection of funds from the National Lottery, especially as the spending was effectively restricted to capital projects in the early, most lucrative, years, has created splendid venues in every corner of Scotland, but some of the people running them will tell you that their most difficult task is finding enough quality product to fulfil the year-round commitment to keep the auditorium programmed and the box office ticking over.

Although the arguments for all of them have been well-rehearsed, only time will tell whether the new projects in Edinburgh all come to pass, but it remains the case that it seems a deal easier to find the money for capital projects in the arts than to sustain – far less develop – the budget for making the work that is the only justification for the buildings. No-one would want to see a return to the embarrassment of the Castle Terrace Hole-in-the-Ground, but might the balance be swinging rather too far the other way?