Edinburgh theatres’ financial situation improves

Edinburgh’s Festival City Theatres Trust, which runs the Festival and King’s theatres, has posted a surplus in its 2011/12 accounts, a year after mounting debts saw the company shed a quarter of its full-time staff.

The operating surplus of £250,000 leaves the trust in a strong position as building work starts on its new rehearsal room and 160-seat studio space, due for completion in summer 2014.

However, chief executive Duncan Hendry, who joined FCTT from Aberdeen Performing Arts this April following John Stalker’s resignation in June 2011, told The Stage that the financial situation is such that he has no plans to produce new work in the immediate future.

Hendry, speaking ahead of a rebrand to the theatres and relaunch of their website, said: “We are certainly in a much better position than we were 12 months ago. That allows me to proceed with some confidence and start thinking about the programming and policies for the venues.

“We don’t have any plans to produce work in the immediate future but we might be working with partners to bring work to the theatres. There are lots of consortia that we are members of, so we will continue to work with them”

The 2011/12 financial year saw an 8% increase in attendance capacity to 58%, and 6% increase in earned income per ticket across both theatres, albeit for a reduced number of performances when the King’s was dark for refurbishment.

The King’s is on target to reopen in time for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, with new seats, air-cooling, box office and disabled access. Hendry said that after further improvement of the flying system this autumn, future improvements will be a gradual on-going project.

Hendry emphasised that the trust is running a profitable operation. Although he says to make it sustainable he expects percentage capacities to run at over 60% and would like to see increased use of the King’s. He is particularly focussed on increasing large-scale Scottish work.

He said: “We will be reconvening meetings of the Scottish Theatres Consortium. There is great quality work being produced in small and medium scale but not much at large scale. I will be making that point in the theatre review as well, that Creative Scotland need to be encouraging Scottish theatre companies to be producing work on a large scale. That would be one thrust of the King’s programming I would like to develop.”

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