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Hidden Door festival to return to Leith Theatre

Leith Theatre. Photo: Chris Scott
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The Leith Theatre complex is to be used for a second time by Edinburgh’s pop-up multi-arts festival Hidden Door.

The 10-day festival will help the Leith Theatre Trust in its approach to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to refurbish the building. The trust took over the lease of the venue from the City of Edinburgh Council in 2016.

This year’s festival attracted more than 13,000 people to a programme of theatre, dance, visual art, music and spoken word that used the whole of the complex and turned its many small rooms into bespoke art installations or performance spaces.

Hidden Door’s use of volunteers to make the venue fit to use, combined with small grants to make it weather-tight and pigeon-free, means that the main 1,400 seat main hall, which had been dark since 1988, is now safe.

David Martin, creative director of Hidden Door, said: “This year’s festival left the public – not to mention the Hidden Door team and contributors – wanting more.

“Leith Theatre has enormous potential to be the venue the city is crying out for, and we can’t wait to continue the journey with the trust and everyone involved in bringing it back to life permanently.”

Jack Hunter, the chair of Leith Theatre Trust told The Stage: “Next year it is a more partnership approach where Hidden Door is going to work more closely with us in garnering support for the project. They are going to take a more analytical approach if you like.”

The trust is in the process of creating proposals for a submission to the Heritage Lottery fund next year. Current plans include making the main hall permanently fit for use, before fully refurbishing it.

Hunter added: “Hidden Door is planning to document more of its working, in terms of filming, audience work and evaluation. All of that will be a big help to us in the ongoing discussions with the Heritage Lottery Fund as to the value of the main hall.

“It costs so much to bring it fully back into use every time. It will be great if we can get at least enough investment so that it can be set up and ready to roll when we get the right event booked. It will also help us to make the case for the long term regeneration of that part of the complex.”

Hidden Door, which is also planning to use the nearby State Cinema building, has put out an open call for proposals for theatre, spoken work and dance to be part of the 2018 festival.

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