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Refurbishment needed

£25m plan to save Edwardian theatre

King's TheatreUrgent refurbishment is needed to avoid closing one of Scotland’s top theatres.

A £25 million renovation project has been unveiled for Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre improve the stage, auditorium, backstage areas, bars and cafe areas.

The City of Edinburgh Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) would contribute £5m each under the plan but the charitable trust, which runs the theatre on behalf of the council, needs a further £10m from a public appeal to ensure work can begin in 2021.

Councillors will be asked next week to approve the £5m backing in principle to allow a bid to be lodged with the HLF later this year.

The theatre, which opened in 1906, would close for 18 months to allow the overhaul to be carried out.

A report for the city council, which has owned the building since 1969, warns that it is “in need of major development to bring it up to 21st century standards”.

It states: “The ambition is to modernise and preserve the King’s for at least the next 50 years. The redevelopment would give a new lease of life to a beautiful and important historic building, and an asset to the city and local community.”

The council report warns the HLF is “highly unlikely” to support the project unless the council matches the £5m contribution from the trust, which is being generated from a £1.50 levy on tickets.

Duncan Hendry, chief executive of the Festival City Theatres Trust, said: “Access to the theatre is very poor at the moment and the backstage facilities are not in great shape. There’s a risk of gradual decline, with attendances dropping and companies not coming here anymore because the facilities don’t match their expectations.

“On a more positive note, Edwardian and Victorian theatres that been done up around the UK tend to be reinvigorated by that process.”

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