35 Days to Save the Kings

Jan 20 2023 | By More

£8.9M funding gap as city loses out on Levelling Up fund

The King’s is in “last chance saloon” as Edinburgh fails to secure part of the UK Government’s Levelling Up fund, leaving Capital Theatres with an £8.9 million hole in its King’s redevelopment project.

The Leven Street theatre has been dark since August 2022 and is due to be signed over to contractors in 35 days time, at the end of February 2023, to commence the full redevelopment project which is crucial to the survival of the Grade A listed building.

Despite having already raised £26 million for the project, if Capital Theatres cannot raise a further £8.9m before then, it will be in danger of having to hand the keys back to the City of Edinburgh Council who own the building.

Visualisation of King’s Theatre redevelopment. Pic: Greig Penny Architecture Ltd.

The huge funding gap, which has been caused by inflation, global conflict and changing trading agreements, was to have been met from part of the City of Edinburgh Council’s bid to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

Capital Theatres, the charity which runs the King’s and Festival Theatres on behalf of the council, now needs to secure the £8.9million in order to stay on track with the project and avoid spiralling costs.

Long road

“This really is the last chance saloon for the King’s” according to Fiona Gibson CEO of Capital Theatres.

“It’s been a long road planning and fundraising for the capital redevelopment of the King’s Theatre to turn it into both a thriving community hub, fully accessible to audiences and performers, and a world class venue, while maintaining its history and heritage.”

Nearly all the original capital cost estimate of £26 million to transform the King’s is in place, with grants from statutory bodies combined with donations from patrons, companies and trusts; as well as Capital Theatres’ own contribution.

Capital Theatres CEO Fiona Gibson. Pic: Greg MacVean

“We are incredibly proud of the collective effort to reach this figure,” adds Gibson. “However, as with all construction projects in the UK currently, we are facing new challenges because of delays in supply chain caused by changing trading agreements, global conflict and increasing levels of inflation.

“Due to these factors, it has emerged in the last few months that the project costs will increase by an estimated £8.9m. We’ve examined our options and we cannot reduce the project cost any further by value engineering and to delay the redevelopment could lead to even higher costs in the long-term, putting the entire project at risk.

“If the money is not found in the next few weeks, the last opportunity for us to green-light the project, the King’s could close its doors forever.

transformative redevelopment

“We know what a difficult time this is to be asking for additional funding with so much financial need in every area of civic life, but as custodians of this beloved theatre, we have to fight for its survival.”

She adds that Capital Theatres has been in close contact and working with key funders including the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and the UK Government from the moment the funding gap emerged

“We need their support to deliver this transformative redevelopment for Tollcross, Edinburgh and Scottish Theatre,” she said, “ensuring the King’s Theatre is there for generations to come.”

Cross section of proposed King’s Theatre refurbishment. Image: Bennetts Associates

Culture and Communities Convener Cllr Val Walker said: “While we’re disappointed not to have been successful in this round of the Levelling Up fund, we look forward to continuing dialogue and exploring any opportunities open to help secure the future of the Kings Theatre.”

Brian Cox, Honorary Patron of the King’s Theatre said: “The King’s is vital to the Scottish Theatre ecology and a key touring venue which brings a variety of genres to the central belt; not to mention a source of comfort and joy in panto season.

“Without the planned transformational redevelopment improving access, preserving heritage and opening the building up to the community, the King’s will close its doors forever.

“After a hugely successful fundraising effort to reach the original budgeted cost of £26 million, we cannot let the rising costs due to inflation, trade agreements and global conflict put the project in peril. We must save the King’s for future generations.”

funding model

The funding model for the King’s Redevelopment comprises of grants from the Scottish Government (£6.5m), City of Edinburgh Council (£4m), National Lottery Heritage Fund (£3.6m) and £3.1m raised from patrons and donors, companies and trusts.

Capital Theatres is contributing £4.4 million and has negotiated a prudential loan to allow the charity to reach £26.7m against the original estimated project cost of £25.7m.

However, the charity now faces a significant funding shortfall due to project duration, complex building requirements, global events leading to supply chain issues, inflation and cost of living impacts. As a result the cost is now £35.6m and the charity must secure £8.9 million to close the funding gap.

Capital Theatres has a page of further information of how you can help, commonly asked questions and links to the latest developments here.


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