Funding crisis forces Hidden Door festival to drastically scale back

Anna Meredith playing Hidden Door 2017 at Leith Theatre. Picture: Chris Scott.
Anna Meredith playing Hidden Door 2017 at Leith Theatre. Picture: Chris Scott.
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An award-winning Edinburgh festival has been forced to dramatically scale back from a ten-day event to a weekend in the face of a funding crisis.

Hidden Door, which was named the city’s best cultural event last year, is also facing a race against time to raise £40,000 to ensure next year’s festival can go ahead in a reduced format.

It has revealed that a mystery benefactor has pledged to match the total if a “final push” to secure the future of the multi-arts event is successful.

Hidden Door has been credited with breathing new life into the historic Leith Theatre building by using it for the event over the last two years and it has been lined up for a third run in 2019.

However organisers of the event, which largely relies on volunteers, have confirmed that they are only now hoping to stage a “weekender” of Hidden Door in 2019.

The festival, which expanded into two venues for the first time earlier this year, had warned in the summer that it needed to raise £80,000 to ensure the event was able to continue.

It claimed the money was need to help pay off debts run up since it was launched five years ago and set up Hidden Door as a registered charity to run the event in future.

However despite creating an official “supporters scheme” and offering a series of benefits in return for donations of up to £500 only a quarter of the total has been raised.

Hidden Door has staged concerts by Young Fathers, Idlewild, Admiral Fallow, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Kathryn Joseph and Anne Meredith in Leith Theatre in the last couple of years.

The temporary reopening of the venue for the first time in nearly 30 years in 2017 paved the way for the venue to stage a series of Edinburgh International Festival concerts this summer, including a one-off night curated by Hidden Door.

David Martin, creative director of Hidden Door, said: “We believe Hidden Door is making a real difference to artists and creative people in Scotland. It’s creating accessible, engaging experiences for audiences, and is leaving a legacy, both 
to the communities we invest in and the fabric of the city itself, such as with the Leith Theatre.

“Since launching our appeal in the summer, we’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by the public support. People really value what we’re trying to achieve, but we can’t do this without that support.

“We’re now urging people to dig deep and help us end the year in a strong position to start making exciting plans for 2019 and beyond.”

Author Irvine Welsh, patron of Leith Theatre Trust, said: “The contribution that Hidden Door made when they worked with us to open up the theatre and showcase its potential made an absolutely massive difference to our progress.

“It’s important to support grassroots arts organisations who give space and a platform to emerging artists. I really hope they succeed in raising enough money to keep contributing to Edinburgh’s edgier and inclusive scene.”