Rod Stewart backs campaign to revive Leith Theatre

Stewart has backed the campaign to reopen the historic theatre.
Stewart has backed the campaign to reopen the historic theatre.
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Rod Stewart, The Proclaimers, Trainspotting star Ewen Bremner and Garbage singer Shirley Manson have thrown their weight behind a bid to bring a derelict concert venue back to life after three decades.

Rod Stewart, The Proclaimers, Trainspotting star Ewen Bremner and Garbage singer Shirley Manson have thrown their weight behind a bid to bring a derelict concert venue back to life after three decades.

Leith Theatre was closed down in 1988 after falling into disrepair.

Leith Theatre was closed down in 1988 after falling into disrepair.

They have agreed to become official ambassadors for a campaign to restore Leith Theatre, which once played host to the likes of AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Slade and Kraftwerk, to its former glory.

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh and director Danny Boyle have already endorsed the campaign over the building, which was gifted to Leith after its controversial amalgamation with Edinburgh in 1920, but has had a troubled history since opening in 1932.

It was badly damaged after being struck by a bomb during the Second World War and was closed for 20 years before it finally reopened in 1961.

As well as hosting pop and rock concerts, Leith Theatre would go on to become a mainstay of the Edinburgh International Festival but was eventually closed down in 1988 due to its declining condition.

The campaign to bring Leith Theatre back to life was launched after the city council proposed selling it off.

The campaign to bring Leith Theatre back to life was launched after the city council proposed selling it off.

The Leith Theatre Trust was created to try to save the building in 2004 after the city council proposed selling it off to help pay for a refurbishment of the King’s Theatre.

A spokeswoman for the Leith Theatre Trust said: “We want to make the Leith Theatre complex as vibrant and exciting as possible for those who live in Leith and for the city of Edinburgh.

"Our aim is to refurbish the beautiful main auditorium and reopen it to provide a series of spaces which can host a wide range of arts, education and events.”

The new ambassadors have been revealed during the temporary reopening of the theatre for the 10-day Hidden Door Festival, which has seen artists take over the entire building.

Stewart, whose father was from Leith, said: “I’ve always had a soft spot for Leith, where my dad grew up and where Penny and I had our sons christened. It’s a creative and exciting area of Edinburgh and making sure the theatre is restored to play a central role in the community and attract people to Leith is a terrific vision.

“The city needs more good venues for live music and I hope people will get involved in making this ambition come true.”

Edinburgh-born Bremner, who filmed scenes for the Trainspotting sequel outside the venue last year, said: “As someone who benefited hugely from this city’s great community arts programmes - and the guidance of its generous and creative arts workers - I can testify to how powerfully my own horizons were expanded by those experiences and encounters.

“The ‘education’ I received in those venues and community theatre groups fed my mind massively and challenged me to go beyond my own inhibitions. This informal ‘education’ was completely invaluable. I know Leith Theatre has great potential to foster and feed the hungry young minds of the city and I wish the Leith Theatre Trust every success in achieving their fantastic and noble ambitions.”

Manson said: “To preserve and regenerate what is of true cultural value to the city of Edinburgh, building upon the priceless reputation it enjoys around the world as a city of culture and friend to the arts. Please support the trust to bring back Leith Theatre to full use.”

The Proclaimers, Craig and Charlie Reid, said: “We’re delighted to hear of the campaign and fully support the refurbishment of Leith Theatre. Best wishes to all concerned in successfully achieving this.”