One of Scotland’s oldest theatres is one step nearer to seeing its magnificent building brought into the 21st century after receiving a funding boost from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The King’s Theatre in Edinburgh, which opened in 1906 and is one of only a handful of Grade A listed theatres north of the border, is due to close temporarily in 2021 while it undergoes a major £25m redevelopment.
Now it has revealed that the largest independent theatre charity in the country has been awarded £174,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) for the project's development phase.
The theatre already had £17m of the £25m required in place, including £5m of prudential borrowing.
Duncan Hendry, chief executive of Capital Theatres, which encompasses the King’s Theatre, the Festival Theatre and The Studio on Potterrow, said: “This is a very significant step securing the funds we need to complete the development phase and move towards the delivery of a project which will transform the King’s Theatre for the generations to come.
“We’d been working on the lottery application for two years and were unsuccessful the first time. I was on holiday in Portugal when the news came through. I was delighted.
“This means we are over the first hurdle and can try for the second stage of NLHF funding, which if we were successful, would mean us receiving £1,726,000.”
Mr Hendry said some of the lottery funding will go towards employing a heritage officer The post-holder will preserve the theatre’s history by speaking to local people about their memories of attending shows, including pantomimes there.
The theatre will be launching a public funding campaign next year.
Last year a report by the Theatres Trust in The Stage theatre newspaper estimated theatres across the UK will need more than £550 million over the next five years to upgrade their buildings.
The King’s Theatre redevelopment project includes upgrading the building and installing two lifts and having ramps to make it accessible, particularly the upper circle, to people with disabilities; making the public spaces more open and welcoming; improving backstage infrastructure such as dressing rooms, creating a new bar and extending existing ones and improving technical equipment such as flying gear for stage performances.
The theatre will close between September 2021 and spring 2023 while work gets underway.