Joan McAlpine MSP has helped secure an additional £50k of funding for Dumfries’s historic Theatre Royal.
The grant was revealed in a letter from Scottish Government culture secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP to the SNP’s Ms McAlpine, who has been demanding the cash since Dumfries Guild of Players asked her for help last year.
The letter from the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs confirmed that the extra funding would be made available through Historic Environment Scotland after persistent attempts by Ms McAlpine to secure the money.
Ms McAlpine said it was a great result for Dumfries and Galloway.
“I am delighted that the Scottish Government has found this money for an important regeneration project in Dumfries at a time when there are so many pressures on its budget.
“The restored theatre is a fantastic facility which helps regenerate the town centre so it will boost the economy. And it’s great that some of the money will help people with mobility issues access the stage. The Guild also has a marvellous youth programme which allows young people from all backgrounds to develop their talent and confidence and supporting youth is an SNP government priority.”
The announcement came weeks after Ms McAlpine appealed to Scotland’s Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney to use his budget to help the oldest working theatre in Scotland complete its restoration. Days before the budget she wrote to him:
“Given that the outstanding funding is a relatively small sum of money, £50k, and the theatre is of enormous significance, I hoped that during the budget process the money may be found – particularly bearing in mind the regeneration aspects of the project.”
In a letter received today, Ms Hyslop confirmed that as a result of Ms McAlpine’s communications funding had been secured. She wrote:
“Further to my letter to you of 24 February 2016, I can confirm that the Scottish Government has been giving further consideration to the situation regarding the £50k shortfall in the on-going £1.9m renovation project at the Theatre Royal, Dumfries.”
The £50k comes on top of £100k originally allocated by the Scottish Government funded agency Creative Scotland as well as support from Holywood Trust and the council. However The Guild of Players was facing a significant funding shortfall because the age of the building meant that the need for additional work became apparent only once renovation was underway
In her letter to Ms McAlpine Miss Hyslop says:
“The Scottish Government fully recognises the very many positive outcomes that will be delivered by the Theatre Royal project and, in the circumstances, I am pleased to be able to tell you that we have taken the decision to provide the Theatre Royal with a further £50k through Historic Environment Scotland to enable the project to be completed to the desired standards to support the theatre’s on-going work.“
Ms McAlpine added:
“I’m absolutely delighted that the Scottish Government has recognised the enormous importance of the 18th century Theatre Royal and has provided vital funding that will allow renovations to be completed to a high standard which will safeguard this national asset for many, many years to come.
“I’m thrilled that work will now be able to be completed, and I’m delighted to have been able to help secure this essential funding for one of Scotland’s most significant arts venues.”