Ian Murray MP Working Hard for Edinburgh South
Here is my response to constituents regarding the future of the King’s Theatre:
Thank you for contacting me about the Kings Theatre.
I couldn’t agree with you more about the Kings and its contribution to culture in our city and beyond.
In a previous life I was involved in the culture sector in Edinburgh and know what a pivotal complement the Kings is to that sector in the city. I was a councillor all those years ago when we approved the millions of works to keep it open in a previous phase.
I am very glad that the funding has been found to save the King’s and that the Scottish Government and Edinburgh Council were able to come to a funding settlement. I would particularly like to thank the hardworking Labour councillors who included a £3million funding settlement for the King’s in their latest budget, while alternative budgets set by other parties did not provide for this and would have seen the King’s close.
It is unacceptable that a city world-renowned for its contribution to theatre and the arts more widely through our festivals should have cultural institutions coming under threat in our own back yard.
I’m entirely disappointed that the Scottish Government’s Culture Secretary, Angus Robertson, is the theatre’s local MSP has allowed so many cultural gems in his constituency to close or be threatened with closure over the last year, while he has spent the time travelling round the world at taxpayers’ expense.
Gorgie Farm and The Filmhouse are also in his constituency but have closed or are closing without his support. It’s my view that the money his department spend on non-devolved areas would be better spent on the cultural pillars of our communities for which he is responsible.
The U.K. government levelling up fund had an application in to help but it wasn’t successful. Indeed, many bids from Edinburgh weren’t successful because of the deprivation index being higher than other areas. It is also the case that the Scottish Government made it clear they didn’t approve of levelling up funding which didn’t help the bids.
Council budgets have been squeezed by the SNP over the last decade, meaning that valued cultural institutions are left to flounder while money is moved to critical services. Edinburgh Council will have to find another £67m this year on top of the £600m in savings over the last decade.
The SNP initially requested that Edinburgh Council find the funding to save the Kings’ which was simply not going to be possible after years of budget cuts.
While I am incredibly relieved that the King’s has been saved, we need to work to ensure that no more of Edinburgh’s cultural and community icons is threatened with closure.
I recently wrote about this for my weekly column for the Edinburgh Evening News, you can read this here.
Thank you again for writing to me about this, please rest assured that I’m raising this with the Scottish Government at every opportunity.