THE future of Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy could be in doubt if a cut to Fife Cultural Trust’s budget goes ahead next week.
That’s the claim of Councillor Peter Grant, SNP group leader, who warned there could be further theatre closures in Fife in the wake of the collapse of the company running the Byre Theatre in St Andrews.
But his claims have been dismissed as “blatant scaremongering” by Councillor David Ross, Fife Council’s Labour administration deputy leader.
And Stuart Cross, chairman of Fife Cultural Trust, is confident his organisation can meet its savings target without having to resort to closing theatres.
The Trust took over responsibility for managing Adam Smith Theatre – as well as Rothes Halls in Glenrothes, Lochgelly Centre, and the Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline – last October.
But Cllr Grant said Labour’s plans to cut funding to the fledgling organisation by £728,000 this year - rising to nearly £1.5m in 2014 - could be catastrophic.
With the Council and the Trust also involved in efforts to revive some kind of theatre at The Byre in St Andrews, he said the situation hads become farcical.’’
He added: “When Labour consulted the people of Fife, all they would tell them was that the cut might mean they had to revise opening hours, review the concession scheme and maybe review support for community arts initatives.
‘‘ The documents the Council is trying to keep secret say that if these cuts go ahead, libraries will close, customer service will deteriorate and there will be a reduced level of support for community cultural events.
“Most damningly of all, at least one of our four flagship theatres could have to close within three years.
“There’s still a chance that Fife Council and Fife Cultural Trust can spearhead a rescue package so that top quality theatre and other cultural events can once again be staged at The Byre, but how can the Council have any credibility in trying to re-open one theatre while it’s responsible for the axe hanging over others? This position is untenable.”
However, Cllr Ross hit back, saying: “This is blatant scaremongering by the SNP.”
He met the Trust last week to discuss its budget, and received an assurance it was able to meet its savings target without the need for any closures.
Cllr Ross added: “Fife Council will have to make savings of over £65 million over the next three years largely as a result of reductions in grant from the Scottish Government. It is only fair that the Cultural Trust, funded by the Council, should make a contribution to that savings target.
“I was very disappointed to learn that the Byre Theatre in St Andrews had gone into liquidation.
‘‘We are working hard with all parties including the Fife Cultural Trust, Creative Scotland and the liquidators to ensure the Byre can be reopened with a long term sustainable future.
‘‘I am hopeful these efforts will be successful.”
Mr Cross added the Trust had been pleased with the constructive and quick response which it received from councillors and senior officers in relation to the implications of the budget savings.
“This has allowed us to give a detailed briefing on the implications of a number of options, including those of implementing the total savings requirement from April 1 2013,” he said.
“These discussions have allowed Fife Cultural Trust to develop a set of proposals which, whilst not being without pain, will meet the savings target without any reductions in opening hours or closure of facilities.”