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King’s Theatre in Edinburgh has only 35 days to secure funding or face closure

Fiona Gibson CEO of Capital Theatres is appealing for help(Greg Macvean/PA)
Fiona Gibson CEO of Capital Theatres is appealing for help(Greg Macvean/PA)

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 the 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 £8.9 million in the next 35 days, in time to sign over the building to the contractors.

If the money is not found, Capital Theatres cannot proceed with the redevelopment and will have to hand the keys back to City of Edinburgh Council, which owns the building.

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.

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

Fiona Gibson, CEO of Capital Theatres, said this 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.

Visualisation of King's Theatre redevelopment
Visualisation of King’s Theatre redevelopment (Capital Theatres/PA)

“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 £8.9 million.

“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 with so much financial need in every area of civic life, but as custodians of this beloved theatre, we have to fight for its survival.

Brian Cox
Scottish Actor Brian Cox at the King’s Theatre (Phil Wilkinson/PA)

“From the moment the funding gap emerged we have been in close contact and working with key funders including the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and the UK Government. We need their support to deliver this transformative redevelopment for Tollcross, Edinburgh and Scottish Theatre, ensuring the King’s Theatre is there for generations to come.”

Actor Brian Cox, honorary patron of the King’s Theatre, 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.

“Without the planned transformational redevelopment improving access, preserving heritage and opening the building up to the community, the King’s will close its doors forever. After a hugely successful fundraising effort to reach the original budgeted cost of £26 million, we cannot let the rising costs due to inflation, trade agreements and global conflict put the project in peril.

“We must save the King’s for future generations.”