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Glasgow theatre in ‘imminent danger of liquidation’ | News

Glasgow theatre in ‘imminent danger of liquidation’ | News

One of Scotland’s most renowned theatres is under “imminent threat of liquidation” due to the spiralling costs of a multi-million pound refurbishment project.

The Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, founded in 1878, has been closed to the public since 2018. Construction began in 2019.

With the planned November opening date recently moved to next autumn, members of the Scottish Parliament have warned that a funding gap of up to £8m could mean the theatre will have to close within months if additional funding is not provided.

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Scotland’s Culture Secretary Angus Robertson was asked about the theatre’s financial situation after a meeting of the project’s funders.

The move follows a recent announcement by Glasgow City Council that it will contribute a further £2 million towards the refurbishment, having already spent £6 million on the project.

Conservative MP Annie Wells said that while she welcomed the council’s funding pledge, “it will not be enough to enable the project to be completed”.

Labour MP Paul Sweeney said: “The risk to the Citizens Theatre is real, with the company under imminent threat of liquidation.”

He called on the Scottish Government to “actively engage with the (Citizens Redevelopment) steering group”, which is made up of representatives from Glasgow City Council, the Citizens Theatre and the project’s main contractor, Kier Group.

Sweeney added that there was “a large discrepancy between the estimated cost of the project, according to the theater’s consultants, and the estimated cost, according to the main contractor.”

Increased costs

The cost of renovating the theater has increased significantly over the life of the project, which will place the theater’s original auditorium in a new three-story building.

When first announced in 2013, the estimate was £10 million. Last month, the figure was estimated at £30 million, with just £27 million of funding in place at that time.

However, The Scotsman newspaper reported that Kier had warned the final cost could be as high as £37 million.

Responding to MSPs, the Culture Secretary said the Scottish Government, which contributed £6m towards the refurbishment, was “in regular discussions” with the theatre about the project and “the significant challenges it is facing”.

The works, he said, had been hit by “an unprecedented combination of events”, including Brexit, the pandemic and the high costs of inflation, all of which had contributed to rising costs.

He added: “Everyone is very committed to trying to find a solution, but I would like to place on record our recognition of the seriousness of the challenge faced by Citizens Theatre and the fact that there remains a significant financial gap.”

He also warned that the government was “having to work within the most challenging budget ever delivered under devolution” and that this was “particularly acute in our capital budget”.

A Citizens spokeswoman said the theatre was “in ongoing and constructive talks with the Scottish Government and will return to our discussions with the UK Government on the levelling up fund after the election”.

She continued: “We are aware of the need to negotiate the best value for money while proactively raising the final funds required, and we are working hard to do this in time to complete the work by the end of this year.”