Council to consider funding request for Theatre Royal

At the meeting of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee on 12 January, Councillors will be asked to approve a contribution of £50,000 for the Theatre Royal.
The request for the funding has been received from the Master of the Guild of Players of Dumfries for the Theatre Royal project.
The Council’s Policy and Resources Committee agreed a grant of £455,000 to the Guild of Players towards the Theatre Royal project in May 2013. The grant was made from a reserve created in 2006 to assist with theatrical development in Dumfries. The decision took into account a consultants’ report from EKOS, which made reference to the unique status of the Theatre Royal in Dumfries, the asset condition, the significant additional funding available from Holywood Trust and other funders, and the potential to consolidate provision within an expanded Theatre Royal building envelope. EKOS’s recommendation to award grant was based on a number of conditions requiring the Guild to engage more widely in supporting the delivery of the arts in Dumfries and Galloway.
When the Policy and Resources Committee agreed the funding in May 2013, the total project budget at that time was estimated at being £1.905M. The project is now nearing completion, but with final projected spend now £2.110M. This is due to unforeseen structural issues, specifically the interior walls and ceilings of the original auditorium which deteriorated rapidly as the building began to dry out, significantly increased Mechanical and Engineering costs, and an increase in water connection/disconnection charges. The Guild has taken steps to control costs, including substitution of the planned sound system with second-hand equipment, and removal of the planned goods lift from the basement. The Guild of Players has provided assurances that it considers there to be no further potential claims under their works contracts.
The Guild of Players has secured additional funding of £0.090M and are currently seeking to raise a further £0.115M, for which the Guild is seeking support from a number of sources including the sum requested from the Council.
The project has also benefited from £7,500 funding from the Council/Sustrans project to deliver regeneration of the Queen Street area. Members at the committee next week will be told that funding can be accelerated within the Dumfries Town Centre Regeneration Capital programme for 2016-17, given the impact on the Queen Street/Shakespeare Street area of the refurbished Theatre Royal and formerly adjacent buildings now incorporated into the wider site.
Chair of the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee, Colin Smyth, said “The refurbishment of Theatre Royal is a key part of the regeneration of Dumfries Town centre in particular our ambitious plans for the Queen Street area of the town. It is a building of national cultural and historic significance which could so easily have been lost to the town had it not been for the refurbishment plans from the Guild of Players. As a council we were delighted to make a significant contribution towards turning the plan into a reality when we allocated £455,000 and you only have to visit the Theatre to see the fantastic job that has been done. The refurbishment also resulted in significant investment being brought into the town from a range of external funders. Now the refurbishment work is complete councillors will consider a final one off payment from our regeneration fund, although as a council we look forward to working with the Theatre in the months and years ahead. Having a first class theatre venue in our town allows a vibrant programme of events to take place, attracting local people and visitors to our region. There is also the really exciting prospect of young people from local schools being able to take part in workshops in Scotland’s oldest working theatre so that this iconic theatre will be enjoyed by many generations to come.”

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