EXTRA Cash Agreed For Troubled Theatre Project But More Still Needed

22 June, 2024 | Arts, Leisure, Entertainment and Sport, Listed / Historic Buildings

A LONG-running project to transform the Citizens Theatre is to receive a further £2million from Glasgow City Council.

Work on the venue in the Laurieston/Gorbals area is behind schedule and over-budget, with a funding gap still to be closed.

A view of the theatre from 2018

A report to councillors stated: “The redevelopment and restoration of this Category ‘B’ listed building will be the first comprehensive renovation in the building’s 140-year history.

“The renovation will secure the future of an ageing and vulnerable building as an essential theatrical, creative, and cultural hub for both the city and local communities, generating new levels of civic pride and excitement, and playing a leading role in the regeneration of the Gorbals, and the wider cultural economy of Glasgow.

“The redevelopment is a beacon project in the Laurieston regeneration area and is a response to a deteriorating heritage building and to the Citizens’ ambition to be a critical partner in the social and economic regeneration of the local community.

“Given the extent of the ambition in relation to the scope of the project, funding in excess of £25million has been secured to date, and has come from multiple sources.”

The theatre seen in 2018
A visualisation from the start of the project indicating how the theatre is expected to look on completion

The report continues: “Similar to a large number of construction projects, covid had a significant negative impact on this project both in terms of delay and cost. Committee will be familiar with projects that have found themselves in financial difficulty post-covid as a result of global socio-economic factors which have led to unprecedented levels of inflation.

“This has especially impacted projects which were tendered and awarded pre-covid, then had to endure an extended period of inactivity during covid, further exacerbated by significant inflationary rises post-covid.

“As a result of the above, and also the more ‘normal’ challenges associated with large-scale redevelopment of an old, listed building, the project is once again facing significant funding challenges.

“Given the commercial and contextual challenges that are being faced by this contract, it is unlikely that the project will be able to be concluded under the terms of the agreed contract, therefore, a ‘commercial settlement’ or some other form of contract resolution will be required.

“As a result, it would not be appropriate for this report to quote any further information on the totality of available budget or current commercial situation, lest it prejudice negotiations between the contracting parties going forward.

“Both contracting parties are aware that additional funding will be required in order to conclude this project regardless of the wide range of potential final account scenarios that may exist.

“Most recently, National Lottery Heritage Fund increased their contribution of funding by £2.5million and confirmed that they would not be in a position to provide any additional increase.

“Citizen’s Theatre Limited are currently engaging with the UK Government regarding utilisation of the Community Ownership Fund, and early indications appear positive in terms of securing funding from this source.”

Councillors on Glasgow’s City Administration Committee agreed an extra £2million for the project from the Common Good Fund.

The theatre states on its website: “Our iconic building had fallen into disrepair and was no longer fit for purpose. We wanted our theatre to be accessible to everyone while retaining its unique Victorian features.

“This project is the first comprehensive redevelopment of the building since it began life as a working theatre in 1878. It will secure its future for the people of Glasgow for generations to come. The theatre will reopen in 2025.”

The redevelopment will:

— Preserve the original Victorian auditorium.

— Remove barriers and improve inclusion throughout the building.

— Create welcoming social spaces.

— Deliver new rehearsal, participation and studio spaces.

— Improve backstage facilities and artist accommodation.

— Make the building more sustainable and future-proofed.

Citizens Theatre website

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