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Inside the King's Theatre
Photograph: Silke Tuexen Photography

One of Edinburgh’s most famous theatres could soon be forced to shut

Stars including Brian Cox and Alan Cumming are calling for funding to save the King’s Theatre

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson

The King’s Theatre in Edinburgh is nothing short of legendary. Since opening in 1906, it’s become a cultural hub, seeing its fair share of standing ovations and shouts of ‘he’s behind you!’

With its John Byrne-painted ceiling mural and red velvet seats, the theatre plays host to many of the main Edinburgh International Festival events and also the city’s largest annual Christmas pantomime. It’s survived wars and a global pandemic. But now, a funding gap could mean that the venue may be forced to shut its doors for good.

The venue has raised £25 million to carry out vital redevelopment works, with a view to preserve it for years to come and tbring it up to modern access standards. But due to inflation, delays in the supply chain and changing trading agreements, it’s now been estimated that the project will actually cost 20 to 30 percent more than originally planned.

‘If this funding gap is not closed before December 2022, the last opportunity for us to give the go-ahead, the King’s could close its doors for ever,’ said Fiona Gibson, CEO of Capital Theatres.

John Byrne mural
Photograph: Silke Tuexen Photography

Stars including Gabriel Byrne, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming and James Thiérée have all shared messages of support for the theatre. ‘It’s in August that we are reminded how vital the King’s Theatre is to the Edinburgh International Festival,’ says Cox, an honorary patron.

‘Without the planned transformational redevelopment improving access, preserving heritage and opening the building up to the community, the King’s will close its doors for ever… we must save the King’s for future generations.’

Alan Cumming performed as Robert Burns in Burn at the Edinburgh International Festival this year. ‘The King’s Theatre is integral to the cultural health and wellbeing of the people of Edinburgh, and indeed Scotland,’ he said.

Gibson said that the Capital Theatre group is in ‘close contact’ with the original project funders, and that they are hoping to secure additional support so that the project can proceed and the theatre’s future can be secured.

ICYMI: one of the best pubs in the UK could soon be forced to shut.

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