Gilded Balloon to run year-round venue in Edinburgh's west end

Fringe promoters Gilded Balloon are to operate their first year-round venue in Edinburgh since their long-time home in the Cowgate was burnt down.

Karen Koren, Peter Schaufuss and Katy Koren are working together on the new Rose Theatre.
Karen Koren, Peter Schaufuss and Katy Koren are working together on the new Rose Theatre.

Founder Karen Koren and her daughter Katy, who is now running the business with her mother, will be staging hundreds of comedy, theatre, music, cabaret and spoken word outwith August.

They are joining forces with a Danish dance star who has snapped up a former church in the city’s west end.

The former Charlotte Baptist Chapel on Rose Street is currently being converted to become Gilded Balloon’s first Fringe venue in the New Town.

However, Gilded Balloon is already programming shows in the 110-capacity basement and 300-capacity main auditorium from September. Shows will be staged up to six nights a week, including the Fringe comeback in August of Scottish comic Craig Ferguson after more than 20 years.

Gilded Balloon used to stage comedy, music and poetry shows throughout the year at its celebrated home in the Cowgate, which opened in 1986, before it was destroyed a huge blaze in 2002.

An ongoing £1.8 million revamp of the “Rose Theatre” is being led by dancer, director and choreographer Peter Schaufuss, a previous artistic director of both English National Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet. He also recently bought the old St Stephen’s Church in Stockbridge.


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Karen Koren said: “We’re going to be doing a real mix of things throughout the year and we’re already speaking to lots of different people.

“We’ll be putting on our own line-ups, reprising Fringe shows, booking in touring productions and also working with other festivals and events.

“A lot of the shows we’ll be programming just aren’t happening in Edinburgh at the moment – the city is crying out for a venue like this.”

Katy Koren added: “One of the main reasons we wanted to take on the Rose Theatre is because it’s in the west end.

"It makes sense for us to be right in the centre of Edinburgh; it is easy to get to and it is too much of a risk to go anywhere else to be honest.

“This was a big opportunity to have our own year-round venue. We obviously know comedy really well, but we want to develop it into a space for new writing, theatre and cabaret. It’s going to be really­ ­flexible.”