Welsh adopts Leith Theatre

Jan 5 2017 | By More

Irvine Welsh to be Leith Theatre patron

Leith Theatre Trust has increased the heat in its attempts to save Leith’s only major theatre, a year after signing a five year lease to run the venue.

Irvine Welsh has been announced as the Trust’s patron as it reveals that it needs to raise £250,000 to make it fit for pop-up events like this May’s Hidden Door festival. Between £8m and £10m in capital funds is needed in the long term, to restore the venue to be a fully functioning facility.

Leith Theatre. Looking from the circle down to the stage. Photo: Chris Scott Photography for Hidden Door

Leith Theatre’s main auditorium was put on the Theatres Buildings At Risk register in 2016 – “due to the amounts of funding still required to secure its future” – even though the theatre building itself is structurally sound,

The first step in the Trust’s 2017 campaign is to raise the theatre’s profile, with Irvine Welsh stepping up to support the venue in which he recalls seeing Mott the Hoople play.  It’s a timely intervention from the Trainspotting author, coming just ahead of the much anticipated launch of T2 on January 27.

The Leith Theatre complex consists of the 200 capacity Thomas Morton Hall, an Art Deco crush foyer and two function rooms, as well as the 1,500 capacity main theatre.

The Hall, foyer and function rooms are used regularly as wedding and community venues, providing an income stream for the Trust. It is the main auditorium which needs renovation.

The first major event to be held in the auditorium since 1981 will be the Hidden Door festival, running from May 26 to June 4, 2017 (details here). The festival will be a major step towards turning the building into the sort of arts space which the Trust is hoping to achieve.


Hidden Door will create spaces for live music and theatre. There will be bars, a cinema and a multitude of exhibition and installation spaces. These will take over the main auditorium space as well as the side rooms.

View from Leith Theatre backstage. Photo Chris Scott Photography for Hidden Door

Leith Theatre Trust’s aspiration is to: “provide a multi-art form hub to serve the local multi-cultural community of Leith, the wider population of Edinburgh and international audiences, making a major contribution to the economy of Edinburgh”.

Primarily, the auditorium will be a mid-scale theatre space, with the benefit of a complex of smaller, flexible spaces in which to rehearse and perform. It will also act as a cultural hub for emerging local artists.

The Trust has launched a fundraising campaign through mydonate.bt.com with a range of fundraising events planned during the year including a high-end event in July on Royal Yacht Britannia to mark the 85th Anniversary of the Theatre opening.

Leith Theatre was commissioned and built in the 1920s as a gift to the people of Leith from Edinburgh City Council. Initially known as Leith Town Hall it opened its doors on July 20, 1932.

The building suffered bomb damage during air raids on Leith on the night of April 7, 1941 and was forced to close. It reopened again 20 years later, in 1961, and operated as a theatre and concert venue until it went dark again in 1988.



Leith Theatre Trust website: www.leiththeatretrust.org
Leith TT on Facebook: LeithTheatre
Leith TT on Twitter: @LeithTheatre
Leith Theatre Trust announces intentions in 2012: Leith Theatre To Get New Lease Of Life

Leith Theatre External. Photo: Thom Dibdin


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  1. Leith Theatre Memories : All Edinburgh Theatre.com | Feb 27 2017