Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre has put the brakes on a long-awaited redevelopment, due to the impact of coronavirus.
The £25 million project, which has been in planning for several years, was due to begin construction in September 2021, completing two years later in time for the 2023 Edinburgh International Festival.
The venue, run by Capital Theatres, has now confirmed that it has suspended preparations and is looking to begin the works a year later than planned, in September 2022.
Joan Stringer, chair of Capital Theatres, said: “What is absolutely clear is that we all remain committed to delivering on our plans to redevelop the King’s into a modern venue, celebrating its rich heritage while sustaining it for future generations of enjoyment.
“We are however realistic and recognise that the current situation will affect our ability to deliver the project in our current timescales… We have therefore taken the difficult decision to pause the project, and are exploring the potential of starting the project 12 months later, in September 2022.
“We are now moving into discussions with principal funders the City of Edinburgh Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund alongside our design team to pause the project.”
The redevelopment will see the theatre stand dark for a full two years while works take place.
Plans have been in development for three years already, while fundraising and detailed designs were drawn up.
Once completed, it is hoped that the theatre’s front-of-house areas will be entirely reconfigured, its backstage facilities upgraded, and its auditorium reduced in size by around 200 in order to accommodate the changes.
When the proposals were unveiled in 2018, Stringer warned that without this investment, the theatre’s future looked uncertain.
She said: “There is no doubt in my mind that the King’s will be at risk of closure, whether it is due to a sudden failure of infrastructure or through a more gradual decline in attendances, because the facilities are not what audiences and performers expect today.”