Historic Edinburgh theatres secure new funding lifeline in wake of campaign
The trust running the King’s and Festival theatres has secured half a million pounds on top of £250,000 already which was previously allocated to help offset huge losses run up during their prolonged closure since the shutdown of venues across Scotland was ordered in March.
The new rescue deal for the theatres has been confirmed weeks after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was urged to intervene amid warnings from leading cultural figures, including stage impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh and dance choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne, that their future was in “serious doubt."
Capital Theatres, which runs the venues on behalf of the city council, lost around £2.6 million worth of ticket sales income in the wake of the shutdown and is facing another £3.4 million worth of losses after being forced to call of this year’s Christmas pantomime.
The King’s, which dates back to 1909, was said to be in “double jeopardy” because funds set aside for its long-awaited refurbishment were having to be used to meet the trust’s basic running costs in the absence of any income.
V&A Dundee, which has received an additional £1 million o closed in March just weeks after celebrating the arrival of its millionth visitor and only reopened to the public at the end of August, with strict social distancing measures in place and capacity severely cut for its much-anticipated exhibition devoted to fashion icon Mary Quant.
A £67.4 million refurbishment of the Burrell Collection, which closed down in 2016, had been due for completion this year, has been awarded £750,000 to help offset soaring costs blamed on the pandemic.
The revamp has already been dogged by delays and a new opening date has not yet been set for the project, which was held up for several months due to the restrictions on building works while the country was in extended lockdown.
Capital Theatres chief executive Fiona Gibson said: “This is the short-term financial lifeline we’ve campaigned tirelessly for in recent months.
“This will enable us to continue supporting our core staff, freelancers and communities alike.”
V&A director Leonie Bell said: “This funding has come at a critical time for us as an organisation.
"We are fortunate we can now welcome an enthusiastic but much reduced audience back into the design museum. This limited capacity impacts significantly on revenue from retail, catering, tickets and donations, whilst other aspects of our income-generating activities such as events are unlikely to take place again for some time.
“This support is a vote of confidence in V&A Dundee as a young and ambitious design museum for Scotland, and in Dundee and its residents. It recognises it is a vital part of the cultural, social and economic recovery of this city, region and Scotland.
“Like so many organisations, businesses and individuals, the global pandemic has had an enormous impact on our organisation and the true impact will endure for a very long time.”
David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life, which is leading the Burrell revamp, said: “The city's resolve to invest in the Burrell underlines the museum’s significance and our commitment to improve the lives of all of our citizens.”
Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Culture is vitally important to all of our lives and we are determined to do everything within our powers to see the sector through this crisis.”
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