Peebles theatre facing funding fears

The Eastgate Theatre in Peebles.
The Eastgate Theatre in Peebles.

The future of a Borders theatre is hanging in the balance as it awaits news of two sources of funding its survival depends upon to keep going.

The Eastgate Theatre in Peebles, a registered charity, had been enjoying a period of unprecedented success, but it now faces an uncertain fate.

Attendances were up by more than 14% in the last year, a £5,000 surplus was recorded and 200 events were staged in its main auditorium and studio.

On that the back of that success, its trustees are pushing ahead with an ambitious £1.5m expansion plan.

That plan was boosted earlier this year after an initial £45,000 grant was secured from the Big Lottery Fund to finance the first phase of design work, costings and community consultation.

However, as the 13-year-old theatre looks ahead, there are concerns over securing the funding needed to cover its day-to-day running costs.

There are indications it could face reduced funding from its two main supporters, Live Borders and Creative Scotland.

The former gave £83,000 to the theatre last year, and the latter gave it two separate grants of £15,000 and £9,588.

A report of annual accounts for 2016-17, submitted to Companies House in Cardiff in Wales, says: “Principal funding sources come from the fundraising activities of admission income, cafe trading, core grant funding by Live Borders and grants from Creative Scotland and other public and charitable organisations.

“In the current climate, and in common with other charities, a guarantee of future core funding for more than a year in advance cannot be obtained in writing.

“Indeed, Live Borders has indicated an ongoing reduction in funding over future years.

“The charity’s survival is very much dependent on these funds.”

Caroline Adam, the theatre’s general manager, said: “At present, the Eastgate has had no definitive information from its two main funders, Live Borders and Creative Scotland, about financial support for 2018-19.

“At a time when the theatre is working hard to secure funding for capital works which would, in the longer term, increase its capacity to earn income, it is obviously important to be able to rely on a stable revenue platform.

“The Eastgate will, therefore, be making representation to both Live Borders and Scottish Borders Council about the importance of maintaining the theatre’s core grant.”