Festival Stars call for King's Theatre to be saved

Fiona Gibson, Capital Theatres CEO, has been joined by Edinburgh Festival stars Alan Cumming, Gabriel ByrneJames Thiérrée and Brian Cox in calling for further support for the King's Theatre - to ensure the survival of the venue for the community and festivals.


As the King’s Theatre plays host to its last performances before closing for a transformational redevelopment, a funding gap has emerged that puts the King’s future in peril. Nearly all of the £25 million originally budgeted capital cost has been successfully fundraised by Capital Theatres, inflation, global conflict and changing trading agreements mean that the project is likely to cost circa 30% more.

If this funding gap is not closed soon the King’s could close its doors forever, the city will lose a key venue and an important cultural hub for its communities, made fully accessible to welcome diverse audiences and performers.

Funding from public bodies and generous donations have helped to get the project this far but we now need increased support including a contribution from the UK Government to see this project over the line.

Capital Theatres CEO Fiona Gibson Photo Greg MacVean.jpg
Fiona Gibson CEO, Capital Theatres

Fiona Gibson CEO of Capital Theatres said:

“As the Edinburgh International Festival closes we’re scheduled to begin the capital redevelopment of the King’s Theatre to turn it into both a thriving community hub, fully accessible to audiences and performers and a world-class venue while maintaining its history and heritage. Nearly all the original capital cost estimate of £25 million to transform the 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, companies and trusts; as well as Capital Theatres’ own contribution and our recent Crowdfunder. We are incredibly proud of the collective effort to reach this figure.

However, as with all construction projects in the UK currently, we are facing new challenges because of delays in the supply chain caused by changing trading agreements, global conflict and increasing levels of inflation. Due to these factors, we estimate that the project costs will increase by circa 30%. We’ve examined our options and we cannot reduce the project cost any further by value engineering and delaying the redevelopment could lead to even higher costs in the long-term, putting the entire project at risk.

If this funding gap is not closed soon, the King’s could close its doors forever.

We are in close contact with all our key public funders and hope to secure additional support to ensure that this transformative redevelopment for Tollcross, Edinburgh and Scottish Theatre can proceed as planned, and a better, brighter King’s Theatre can reopen its doors for generations to come.”

Brian Cox, Honorary Patron of the King's Theatre

Brian Cox said:

“It’s in August that we are reminded how vital The King’s Theatre is to the Edinburgh International Festival which over the years has played host to Juliette Binoche, Fiona Shaw and this year Alan Cumming and Gabriel Byrne. But for the rest of the year it’s vital to the Scottish Theatre ecology and a key touring venue which brings a variety of genres to the central belt; not to mention a source of comfort and joy in panto season. Without the planned transformational redevelopment improving access, preserving heritage and opening the building up to the community, the King’s will close its doors forever. After a hugely successful fundraising effort to reach the original budgeted cost of 25 million, we cannot let the rising costs due to inflation, trade agreements and global conflict put the project in peril. We must save the King’s for future generations.”

Alan Cumming starring in the NTS production 'Burn' at the King's, presented as part of Edinburgh International Festival 2022.

Alan Cumming said:

“The King’s Theatre is integral to the cultural health and wellbeing of the people of Edinburgh, and indeed Scotland. It brings us together in the Winter via the annual pantomime and it welcomes citizens of the World every August during the festival. This year, I was back at the King’s with BURN and it reminded me how much I love this old beauty. But, she could do with a facelift and a pretty thorough makeover. Please, urgent funding is needed to help preserve the magic of the King’s.”

Gabriel Byrne starring in 'Walking with Ghosts' at the King's Theatre, presented as part of Edinburgh International Festival 2022

Gabriel Byrne said:

“It's such a wonderful honour to be in the unique position of being the last person to perform on the stage of this amazing theatre which has a history going back years and years. I've always thought of a theatre as being somewhat like a church, it has a spiritual connotation and there's energy trapped inside it of all the people who've sat here and laughed and have been touched and have been changed by what they've seen on the stage. That's why a theatre is incredibly important to a city. In fact, it's the spiritual lifeblood of the city. To preserve a theatre is being a good ancestor. It's saying we need this, we value this and we're passing it on to the next generation. Anything that can be done to preserve The King’s Theatre and give it new life has to be done. For it to not survive would be a tragedy for the audiences and for the city itself.”

James Thieree starring in 'Room', presented at the King's Theatre as part of Edinburgh International Festival 2022.

James Thiérrée said:

“I have a very huge affection for The King's Theatre - it feels like a vessel that's been on the sea for many years. I feel theatres like these are the real temples today - of the mind, of the imagination - and they have to be taken care of, cherished and protected.”

Fergus Linehan, Director & CEO, Edinburgh International Festival

Fergus Linehan said:

"There wouldn't be an International Festival if there wasn't a King's Theatre, because it is here that so many of the signature moments of the Festival have taken place. We want to make sure that our premier theatre space in the city is appropriate for the way theatre, dance and opera tours now, and ensure they don't leapfrog over Edinburgh. As a city and a country, we must invest in The King's. Any responsible cultural sector must both make sure the next season is coming, but also to think 10, 20 years down the line to ensure that what we've enjoyed will still be there in the future." 

Festival stars call for King's to be saved

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