Councillors to study Alhambra Theatre bid to run Carnegie

0612023 SSFF FP100 carnegie hall 'Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline - for the FP100 buildings
0612023 SSFF FP100 carnegie hall 'Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline - for the FP100 buildings

A proposal on how theatres could be run in the future in Dunfermline will be put before councillors at Tuesday’s meeting of the Executive Committee.

In front of them will be options from the Alhambra Theatre Trust (ATT) and Fife Cultural Trust (FCT) - and central to both is the Alhambra’s pitch to take over the management of the nearby Carnegie Hall, bringing both of the town’s theatres under one operator.

Grease was one of the west end hit shows to come to the Alhambra. (Pic:  PN&DI Ltd, 2012)

Grease was one of the west end hit shows to come to the Alhambra. (Pic: PN&DI Ltd, 2012)

The paper, produced by Keith Winter, executive director for enterprise and development, makes a number of recommendations for councillors to consider.

It proposes giving the Alhambra the funding it says is vital - £150,000 per year for three years - to help cover operating costs.

The report, which is available online, states that ‘‘without recurring funding from Fife Council, ATT may opt to close in March 2016.’’

That statement plus the sight of the front of the venue suddenly being boarded up - a move to combat vandalism while it is closed in January said Trustees - sparked rumours over its immediate future.

But, the report stresses that the proposed funding would have to come through savings found from within the local area budget - an issue likely to be taken up by west Fife councillors.

The report also recommends the council provides a guarantee against losses up to £50,000 to ATT to support its bid to bring more west end shows to the Kingdom.

On the detailed issue of handing over management of the Carnegie Hall to ATT, it proposes six months of negotiation between ATT, the council and FCT to determine what is the best option.

That would include studying the Trust’s own business plan for the long-establishing theatre as well as ATT’s proposals for how it would run it on a proposed 25-year lease.

The Cultural Trust has said it is open to looking at what is best for Carnegie Hall - ‘‘ it makes more operational sense to have both theatres managed by one operator who can drive complementary programming, shared staffing and joint marketing’’ - but it notes that a transfer ‘‘is not without risk.’’

Heather Stuart, chief executive of FFCT, said: “We welcome the conversation around theatre provision in Dunfermline, and the opportunity to continue improving partnerships with other cultural providers in the town. Such efforts can only increase the variety and choice for local residents, something which would complement the high standard of cultural offering we are already providing in Dunfermline and throughout Fife.

‘‘As Fife’s main cultural provider, we obviously take close interest in constantly increasing and improving the cultural offering in Dunfermline, as seen not only in Carnegie Hall, but in ventures such as the development of Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries.

‘‘We are focused on enriching lives in local communities throughout the whole of Fife, not only through our programmes of theatre, music and visual art, but also through our offering of volunteering opportunities and spaces for classes, workshops and societies, and, as such, we are happy to take part in any measure which strengthens the cultural and community fabric of Dunfermline.”