Scottish Government pledges £190,000 for Leith Theatre rebirth

The Scottish Government is to put in £190,000 towards efforts to return a neglected theatre building to the line-up of the Edinburgh International Festival for the first time in 30 years.

The funding will help pay for an extended celebration of Scottish music at the venue, where AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Kraftwerk and Frankie Miller have previously performed.

Leading folk, pop, rock and indie acts will take to the stage of the theatre 14 years after it was almost sold off to help pay for a refurbishment of the King’s Theatre, another long-running EIF venue.

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Last month the city council earmarked £1 million to help pay for a revamp of the building, which was gifted to the people of Leith after its controversial 1920 amalgamation with Edinburgh.

The theatre opened in 1932, but was almost destroyed by a Second World War bomb blast which kept it closed until 1961. It was regularly used by the EIF until it was closed down by councillors in 1988 after falling into disrepair.

A campaign to reopen the building was triggered by the council’s proposed sell-out but it took until 2016 for the local authority to agree to lease it out to the Leith Theatre Trust.

The building was finally reopened temporarily last May for the Hidden Door festival, which saw a series of gigs staged there. The event is due to return this spring before the EIF’s programme, Light on the Shore. Organisers will reveal the line-up for the EIF line-up, which will run throughout the festival, when its full programme is launched next week.

However the government said the series of events would “underscore Scotland’s distinctive culture of music-making and herald the resurgence of Leith as a creative hub.”

The government’s support for the EIF programme at Leith Theatre was revealed as part of an announcement confirming £2 million worth of support through its Expo Fund, which was launched 10 years.

Jack Hunter, chair of the Leith Theatre Trust, said: “We are delighted that the Edinburgh International Festival is returning to Leith Theatre after a gap of 30 years.

“We know we’ll learn even more about the theatre and the experience will inform our future planning and development.

“In preparing the theatre to host the festival’s programme there will also be improvements to the infrastructure which will leave us in a better position ongoing. It’s an exciting time for Leith Theatre and we look forward to showing off our building while being part of one of the city and country’s most acclaimed events.”

Roy Luxford, director of planning at the EIF, said: “As with every venue we use, the festival ensures the infrastructure is appropriate and designed to deliver the performances we present. For Leith Theatre, this will involve preparation and repair work that will make some improvement to the venue after Light on the Shore.”