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Saturday, January 28, 2023

King’s Theatre faces closure after UK levelling up fund snub

A SCOTTISH theatre could potentially have to close its doors for good after it failed to secure funding.

The King’s Theatre in Edinburgh was unsuccessful in its bid to secure access to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund, which would have provided a crucial contribution towards a funding gap for the King’s redevelopment project.

Capital Theatres, the charity which runs the King’s, has already raised £26 million and must find the remaining £8.9m in the next 35 days, in time to sign over the building to the contractors. If that does not happen, Capital Theatres cannot proceed with the redevelopment and will have to hand the keys back to City of Edinburgh Council, which owns the building.

READ MORE: Here’s the scandalous truth about UK’s new Levelling Up funding

Without the redevelopment, the Grade A listed building risks closing its doors for good. Capital Theatres is now trying to work with the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and the UK Government to find this vital funding.

Chief executive of Capital Theatres Fiona Gibson said this is the “last chance” for the King’s. She said: “It’s been a long road planning and fundraising for the capital redevelopment of the King’s Theatre to turn it into both a thriving community hub, fully accessible to audiences and performers, and a world-class venue,while maintaining its history and heritage.”

The King’s closed at the end of August 2022 in preparation for the redevelopment, but due to inflation, global conflict and changing trading agreements, the project now needs an estimated £8.9m more.

Gibson added: “Nearly all the original capital cost estimate of £26 million to transform the King’s is in place thanks to grants from the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund; generous donations from our patrons and donors, companies and trusts; as well as Capital Theatres’ own contribution. We are incredibly proud of the collective effort to reach this figure.

“However, as with all construction projects in the UK currently, we are facing new challenges and due to these factors, it has emerged in the last few months that the project costs will increase by an estimated £8m.

“We’ve examined our options and we cannot reduce the project cost any further by value engineering and to delay the redevelopment could lead to even higher costs in the long term, putting the entire project at risk. If the money is not found in the next few weeks – the last opportunity for us to greenlight the project – the King’s could close its doors forever.

“We know what a difficult time this is to be asking for additional funding but as custodians of this beloved theatre, we have to fight for its survival.”

Honourary theatre patron and actor Brian Cox added: “The King’s is vital to the Scottish theatre ecology and a key touring venue which brings a variety of genres to the central belt, not to mention a source of comfort and joy in panto season. We must save it for future generations.”

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