Stars including Brian Cox and Alan Cumming have issued a plea to save an Edinburgh theater which is at risk of closing over increased costs for a major redevelopment.
They have joined calls to save the King’s Theater on Leven Street after it emerged the cost of refurbishment is likely to be 20-30% higher than the £25m originally budgeted.
Unless the funding gap can be closed, the theater could be at risk of closure as its facilities need to be brought up to modern access standards.
The venue is an “important” part of the Edinburgh International Festival, says actor Brian Cox, who is an honorary patron of the theatre.
“It is in August that we are reminded of how important the King’s Theater is to the Edinburgh International Festival, which over the years has hosted Juliette Binoche, Fiona Shaw and, this year, Alan Cumming and Gabriel Byrne,” he said.
“Without the planned, transformative redevelopment that improves access, preserves the heritage and opens the building to the community, the King’s doors will close forever.
“After a hugely successful fundraising effort to reach the original budgeted cost of £25m, we cannot let the rising costs due to inflation, trade agreements and global conflicts put the project at risk. We must save the king’s for future generations.”
Alan Cumming, who performed as Robert Burns in Burn at the festival this year, said the venue could do with a facelift.
“The King’s Theater is an integral part of the cultural health and well-being of the people of Edinburgh, and indeed Scotland. It brings us together in winter via the annual pantomime, and it welcomes citizens of the world every August during the festival.
“This year I was back at King’s with Burn and it reminded me how much I love this old beauty. Please, urgent funding is needed to help preserve the magic of King’s.”
James Thieree, star of Room, presented at King’s as part of the Edinburgh International Festival this year, said the theater felt like a “vessel that has been at sea for many years”.
He added: “I feel that theaters like these are the real temples today – of the mind, of the imagination – and they need to be cared for, cherished and protected.”
Fiona Gibson, chief executive of Capital Theatres, said the project was at risk due to supply chain delays and rising levels of inflation.
She said: “We estimate that project costs will increase by between 20% and 30%.
“We have examined our options and we cannot further reduce project costs through value development and delaying the redevelopment could lead to even higher costs in the long term, putting the whole project at risk.
“If this funding gap is not closed before December 2022, the last opportunity for us to give the go-ahead, the King’s doors could close forever.
“Nearly all of the original £25m capital cost estimate to transform King’s is in place thanks to grants from the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, the National Lottery Heritage Fund; generous donations from our patrons and donors, corporations and trusts; as well as Capital Theatre’s own contribution and our recent Crowdfunder.
“We are incredibly proud of the collective effort to reach this number.”
Gibson said the group was in “close contact” with the original funders and hoped to secure further support to ensure the development could proceed as planned.