Revamp of historic Scottish theatre put back almost a year and set to cost £30m

Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre has been shut since 2018

Work to complete a long-awaited revamp of one of Scotland’s best-known theatres has been put back almost a year - with the revamp expected to cost around three times what was originally envisaged.

The Citizens Theatre, in Glasgow’s Gorbals area, has abandoned plans to reopen for this year’s festive season due to protracted delays on the project to extensively overhaul the Victorian-era venue.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The venue is not expected to fully reopen until the autumn of 2025 at the earliest after a restoration and refurbishment of its historic auditorium proved more complex than expected and a sub-contractor working on the project went into administration.

The new-look Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is due to fully reopen in the autumn of 2025.The new-look Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is due to fully reopen in the autumn of 2025.
The new-look Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is due to fully reopen in the autumn of 2025.

The final cost of the project, which was estimated at £10 million when it was first announced in 2013, is expected to top £30 million by the time it reopens.

The theatre last hosted shows in the summer of 2018 and the redevelopment work - the biggest in the history of the venue - was originally meant to take just two years to complete.

However the project has been significantly held up by delays caused by Covid restrictions, as well as the complexity of work to “wrap” the historic auditorium in a new three-storey building.

The new-look “Citz” will have an expanded foyer, a new 150-seater studio theatre, a hugely expanded foyer, a new cafe-bar, improved backstage areas, new spaces for set-building, costume-making and rehearsing, and better sightlines in the revamped main auditorium.

The new-look Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is due to fully reopen in the autumn of 2025. Picture: John DevlinThe new-look Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is due to fully reopen in the autumn of 2025. Picture: John Devlin
The new-look Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is due to fully reopen in the autumn of 2025. Picture: John Devlin

However the theatre still has to raise around £3 million to pay for the completion of the project, which is being funded by the Scottish Government, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Glasgow City Council and Creative Scotland.

A planned bid for UK Government funding had to be postponed when the General Election was announced.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The project was instigated amid growing concern about the condition of the venue, which dates back to 1878.

The planned revamp, designed by leading Scottish architects Bennetts Associates, was estimated to cost £19.4m in 2017 when its temporary closure was announced, but the bill had risen to £21.5 million and additional public funding had been secured for the project by the time work started in 2019.

The new-look Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is due to fully reopen in the autumn of 2025.The new-look Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is due to fully reopen in the autumn of 2025.
The new-look Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is due to fully reopen in the autumn of 2025.

The latest cost estimates were kept under wraps last December when it was announced that the theatre had reached an “important milestone” and was planning to reopen by November 2024 for a Christmas show.

The Citizens has now admitted the planned timetable has had to be significantly put back, but insisted the project has not been scaled back in any way.

Executive director Alex McGowan, who previously announced he would be stepping down from his role this summer, said: “Building works are expected to complete by the end of December 2024 at which point our contractor, Kier Construction, will hand over the building to the Citizens Theatre for fit-out.

“This is anticipated to take around six months and involves a wide-range of work as we gear back-up to be a fully functioning theatre.

The new-look Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is due to fully reopen in the autumn of 2025.The new-look Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is due to fully reopen in the autumn of 2025.
The new-look Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is due to fully reopen in the autumn of 2025.

“Reopening activities are therefore anticipated to start by the summer of 2025 and a full season programme will begin from the autumn of 2025.”

Mr McGowan said “large areas” of the new building were expected to be completed by this summer, including foyer “back of house” spaces.

Comments

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.