Theatre Royal Stays Open via Grant


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


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.