City theatres hit by dramatic funding cuts

Ian Rankin's Dark Road was a Lyceum hit. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Ian Rankin's Dark Road was a Lyceum hit. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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THEATRE bosses have warned that “damaging” funding cuts running to hundreds of thousands of pounds could reduce the Capital’s ability to perform on the world stage.

National arts quango Creative Scotland has announced nearly £100 million worth of grants up to 2018, but the main losers are the Royal Lyceum Theatre and Traverse Theatre, which face cuts of £212,000 per year and £108,000 per year to their respective grants.

The Lyceum, which will receive a £3m grant, will have to reassess its business model, said directors, who described the move as “a perverse punishment for acknowledged success”.

A statement from the Lyceum’s executive director Alex McGowan and artistic director Mark Thomson said: “It is a very damaging cut not only for the Lyceum but for producing theatre in Scotland. We are playing a vital role in sustaining a theatre industry in Scotland so this decision seems like a perverse punishment for acknowledged success.”

Bosses are keen to meet with Creative Scotland to address the situation, which they say will prevent them from providing the high standard of productions they 
currently achieve. Management at the Traverse Theatre, pictured below left, which will receive a £2.6m grant, said they will have to revisit future plans to ensure the continued success of the theatre.

Venues may need to change the way they work by engaging in more co-productions with other theatres, said Evening News entertainment editor Liam Rudden.

He said: “It seems an unusual move by Creative Scotland at a time when the Royal Lyceum is attracting new audiences with exciting works such as last season’s Dark Road, by Ian Rankin – it proved to be one of their bestsellers for years.

“It’s just a shame that such a historic company, which before the formation of the National Theatre of Scotland was considered by many to be Scotland’s national theatre, is being forced into compromise as it prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary.”

The number of organisations in Edinburgh and the Lothians to receive grants has risen from 35 to 40 this year, with establishments such as Dance Base, in the Grassmarket, receiving a 24.5 per cent increase in its grant to £408,000 a year.

A Creative Scotland spokesperson said: “The Royal Lyceum and Traverse Theatres in Edinburgh continue to be both valued and hugely important organisations in the context of theatre in Scotland.

“We will continue to work closely with both the Lyceum and the Traverse and we will meet with them as soon as possible to discuss their future plans and how we support these plans.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com