Trust - we’re open to talks on Carnegie future

Carnegie Hall - run by FCT but on the radar of Alhambra
Carnegie Hall - run by FCT but on the radar of Alhambra

Fife Cultural Trust which runs the region’s theatres says it is still open to discussing its plans for Dunfermline with the bosses of the Alhambra who want to take over the Carnegie Hall.

The Alhambra Theatre Trust (ATT) provided an unexpected twist to a debate over funding when it knocked back a £150,000 one-off investment from Fife Council just one week after councillors agreed to the financial support.

ATT, which runs the Kingdom’s biggest private theatre, was the subject of speculation over its future after the premises were boarded up at the same time as a report to councillors said it could close in March if no funding was given. The trust insisted the boards were to deter vandals.

The report recommended £150,000 per annum for three years, but councillors opted for a one-off payment of £150,000 split into three lump sums of £50,000 - only to have the offer turned down. ATT said it ‘‘never asked for’’ and ‘‘does not intend’’ to take the money.

At the heart of a much wider picture is ATT’s complaint that it receives no public funding, while the smaller nearby Carnegie Hall - which it wants to take over and run both theatres under one operator - does as it is managed by FCT.

It criticised the cultural trust for ’changing direction’’ - a move which, it said, resulted in the alternative £150,000 funding for three years being tabled which was ‘‘not the outcome’’ it sought.

In a statement, FCT underlined it remained open to considering discussions around the proposals to ‘‘enhance and improve theatre provision in Dunfermline’’ - ‘‘increasing the variety and choice for local residents and complementing the high standard of cultural offering we are already providing in the town and throughout Fife. ‘‘

It underlined that any decision to move Carengie under the management of a proposed new organisation run by ATT was for Fife Council to decide, adding: ‘‘The council will determine the long-term preferred operation and management options for Carnegie Hall, including which body should be responsible, as is their right as owner of the facility. ‘‘

The trust said it was proud to run Carnegie - a historic landmark in Dunfermline - and of its successes with the theatre, pointing out an increase of 39 per cent to its trading income and a reduction in the cost per theatre attendee by 43 per cent as ‘‘testament to the continuing improvements made by the trust in the last three years.’’

FCT said it had also reduced the amount of public money going into Carnegie by 38 per cent per year to £148,000 and continued to drive operational efficiencies at the venue.

Its statement added: ‘‘We understand that Carnegie Hall has a special place in the heart of the Dunfermline community – as evidenced by an annual footfall of 112,000, which includes 58,000 attendances at courses, classes, and other community activities – and our programming in the facility reflects both the diverse nature of the surrounding community and our key focus on inclusion and affordability.

‘We welcome any opportunity to build on these successes, working with local cultural partners and Fife Council to ensure a sustainable future for theatre provision at Carnegie Hall, in Dunfermline, and throughout Fife.