Leith Theatre announced that it has made the difficult decision to remain closed to the public until next Spring.
In a building already suffering the effects of years of neglect, and after weeks of scenario planning and calculating financial risk, it must, like so many other theatres and venues across the country, stay shut to remain a viable business in the longer term.
The colder months of the year are much more challenging in this still establishing business, with a quieter programme and with some parts of the theatre still without heating. The Spring and Summer programmes have been lost, and the current landscape is all so uncertain. With so many unknowns re-opening is a risk simply too high to take and one that could potentially sound the death knell for this unique venue, which sits proudly in the heart of Leith.
It is a decision that has not been taken lightly, but one which recognizes that temporary closure is necessary to protect the building and business for the future. Most of the staff at Leith Theatre were furloughed as part of the Government Support scheme since the Theatre closed its doors in March. This longer term closure does mean that staff employment is affected and the theatre is in touch with its small team to discuss what that means directly.
However, the closure also brings an opportunity for Leith Theatre; it is with huge thanks to its funders; the Architectural Heritage Fund, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and most recently, Theatres At Risk, that it is able to conserve its limited resources and invest this time in prioritising its strategic next steps and planning for refreshed doors opening once more.
Lynn Morrison, Exec Director of Leith Theatre Trust said, “The sector is facing incredible challenges and for our small dedicated staff team who have worked tirelessly to bring this venue to back to its feet, it is the hardest thing to see the building closed and the Leith family unable to return.
“We have to use this opportunity to build a stronger platform for the venue’s future. We are a Theatre at Risk and a business start-up, and we have major refurbishment and construction needs.
Our committed funding and Government COVID support has granted us this time to review our future business development. We hope we can also explore future fundraising possibilities and consider if further building regeneration works are possible.
We cannot wait to welcome everyone back through our doors but in the meantime we will keep supporting the community in any way we can”
Since shutdown, Leith Theatre has continued to provide a community lifeline, acting as a collection point for the North East Edinburgh Foodbank, collecting stationery for pupils in partnership with a local primary school and also pipe lining fabric and materials for making masks for an Edinburgh craft collective. The doors were also re-opened to support NHS blood banks.
Leith Theatre has already seen periods of closure in its rich history and one day this temporary shutting will join the rest as mere notes in its timeline.
Leith Theatre will, as always, persevere.