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King's Theatre in Edinburgh issues urgent plea for financial support after missing out on levelling up funding, warning that it could be forced to 'close its doors forever' within a matter of weeks.

Exterior of Edinburgh's King Theatre
King's Theatre in Edinburgh has warned that it could close in 35 days unless it plugs a funding gap


One of Scotland's best known theatres faces closure within 35 days unless it can raise £9m to cover the cost of long-awaited refurbishment work, its operators have said.

King's Theatre, located in Edinburgh's Old Town, closed its doors in August 2022 in preparation for major redevelopment, after its operator Capital Theatres raised £26m for the work.

But it says it now needs an estimated £8.9m more, blaming spiralling costs due to inflation, global conflict and changing trading agreements.


Capital Theatres said that if the money is not found before the 117-year-old building is due to be signed over to the contractors in 35 days, it will not be able to keep the project on track and costs will spiral. 

"The King’s could close its doors forever and the city will lose an essential venue and a vital cultural hub for its communities," a statement said.

It added that after Edinburgh missed out on UK Government's Levelling Up Funding, announced yesterday, it now needs increased support from statutory funders such as the Scottish Government, the City of Edinburgh Council, and the UK Government if it is to see project go ahead.

Fiona Gibson, Chief Executive of Capital Theatres described the situation as "the last chance saloon for the King’s". 

"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," she said. 

"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 greenlight the project, the King’s could close its doors forever."

News of the situation follows several closures of arts and culture institutions in Scotland at the end of last year.

In October the Edinburgh International Film Festival was shut down with immediate effect after the charity that runs it, the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI), announced it had ceased trading and called in administrators.

Filmhouse Cinema and Café Bar in Edinburgh, and Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen also ceased trading as a result.

Meanwhile, the Modern Two art gallery in Edinburgh was forced to close for winter, and Falkirk Town Hall Theatre is due to close next month.

The Scottish Government has said it is in talks with the arts and culture sector on what more can be done to support them through the cost-of-living crisis, but admits limitations on its powers makes it difficult to respond.