Theatre Royal Stays Open via Grant

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Scotland’s economic drama may have closed the Byre Theatre in January, but in Dumfries, the show must go on!

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Theatre Royal, the country’s oldest working playhouse, had been tied to the economic railroad track and threatened with demise until this week. The 200-year-old stage has received ¬£455,000 from the Dumfries and Galloway Council. UK’s The Guardian relates:

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The grant, which has been held in reserve for two years following a previous unsuccessful bid, will allow the theatre to be refurbished and additional facilities installed. The council had been exploring the possibilities of using the money to build a new cultural centre in the city.

However, the theatre has raised almost £1.5m from other sources, including £1m from the Holywood Trust, which saved the theatre from closure in 2011.

The latest grant brings it within sight of the £2m required for refurbishment that will expand the theatre into adjacent properties to improve access. Plans also include a rehearsal room and improvements to the bar, foyer and catering facilities.

CFR reported in January that, unfortunately, the Byre Theatre in St. Andrews didn’t receive a similar reprieve. The beloved arts facility, founded in 1933, announced that funding problems had moved it into “administration,” i.e., insolvency.

The two theaters’ economic struggles are a concrete sign of the arts’ current fiscal dilemma in the UK. In December, CFR reported that Arts Council England (ACE), fresh off a November struggle over a drastic funding cut, learned it would have its budget bled by a further ¬£11.6m before 2015. Arts Council England is the nation’s public cultural agency.

At that time, Culture Secretary Maria Miller in a blog said the cultural budgets must not be given “special protection.” The arts are looking at an overall cut from ¬£449.5m to ¬£338m by 2014.