£955K for Ed Theatres

Sep 25 2020 | By More

Second wave of Covid funds announced

Six Edinburgh organisations have received a total of £955,698 as part of the £5m Performing Arts Venue Relief Fund, the second round of government support, administered by Creative Scotland and announced on Thursday 24 September 2020.

The open fund is designed to support performing arts venues that cannot yet re-open due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It offered sums up to a maximum of £250K for each organisation, irrespective of the number of venues it runs.

Picture of the Brunton Theatre's rather stark concrete facade, glowing in the evening sun.

The Brunton Theatre is to get the same funding, £250,000, as Capital Theatres. Photo: Thom Dibdin

The Edinburgh theatres receiving funds are the Festival, King’s and Studio theatres (through Capital Theatres), the Assembly Roxy and Leith Theatre. In East Lothian the Brunton has got funding and, in West Lothian, money has gone to the Regal Bathgate and Howden Park Theatre.

The grants are intended to provide support to the end of March 2021, removing any threat of insolvency and allowing the organisations to develop and deliver activity “as soon as practicable”.

A key element of the requirement of the grants is to: “allow for specialist and core staff to return from furlough or avoid redundancy to work on future sustainable activity plans”. Notably, this fund was announced on the same day that UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his follow-up to the furlough scheme which is limited to those in ”viable” jobs.

Freelance support

Freelancers, who elsewhere have either dropped through the cracks of government support or are offered only 20% of their average profits, are also specifically mentioned.

According to Creative Scotland the grants aim to “increase commissioning and employment opportunities for freelance artists and creative practitioners (between now and end of March 2021) to support continued public engagement while closed”.

As predicted (see: King’s Double Jeopardy), Capital Theatres received the maximum £250K available for its three venues: the King’s, Festival and Studio theatres. This compares with the £750K for the Lyceum, £500K for the Traverse and £256K for Dance Base, awarded in the first, targeted, round of funding in August (see Edinburgh Venues’ £1.7m Covid funds)

Capital Theatres have responded on Twitter, saying: “We are grateful to receive the first emergency funding from government. However it represents just 1.9% of our turnover, and we are Scotland’s largest theatre charity. Therefore our theatres are still under threat.”

The charity was also mentioned in First Minister’s questions at Holyrood on Thursday, in a question from Sarah Boyack MSP who asked Nicola Sturgeon whether she would intervene to help it weather the storm it is are facing due to loss of income.

She said: “First Minister, without emergency funding, jobs are at risk and the much-loved King’s Theatre faces closure if the charity can not fill the £8 million gap on their vital refurbishment plans”.

Sarah Boyack and Nicola Sturgeon’s exchange at Holyrood.

Nicola Sturgeon responded by first pointed out that funding had been made available to help the culture sector including cultural venues.

She continued: “I know the Culture Secretary is engaged specifically with Capital Theatres and the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh. I have had representations from a number of people including, recently, Brian Cox, on that issue. So I will ask the Culture Secretary very soon and very urgently to write to the member to update ton those discussions and the assistance that hopefully we will be able to provide.”

Iain Munro, CEO, Creative Scotland said of the new awards: “Despite the ongoing, detrimental impact that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on Scotland’s performing arts venues, and on culture as a whole, it is positive that we can offer some funding to help venues navigate these extremely challenging times.

“I’m also encouraged to see that this funding will help venues across many different parts of Scotland where they form such an important part of the cultural life of local communities.”

Edinburgh and Lothians companies funded in this round:

Out of the Blue: £67,034
Assembly (The Roxy): £85,000
Leith Theatre: £138,214
Queen’s Hall: £175,000
Edinburgh City Council (Usher Hall): £240,450
Capital Theatres Trust (Festival, King’s & Studio Theatres): £250,000
The Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh: £250,000
The Regal, Bathgate: £25,000
Howden Park Theatre, Livingston: £95,000

The full list of 59 venues across Scotland which have received a total of £4.74million from the fund is available here on the Creative Scotland website.

Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government are discussing how to reallocate the remaining £260K of the £5 million Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund budget to other emergency support.


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