Ambitious plans to transform the former cinema on Kirkcaldy High Street into a live entertainment venue have been revealed.
Kings Theatre Kirkcaldy Ltd, a non profit organisation, has announced its plans to regenerate the derelict site to create what is believed to be Fife’s largest live theatre, arts and music venue.
The building originally opened in 1906 as Scotland’s first King’s Theatre and these new plans would see it returned to that use.
In recent months mystery has surrounded the future of the venue, which has remained empty since the MGM cinema closed its doors to the public for the last time back in 2000, with signs appearing on the building’s canopy over the last few months suggesting something happening to the building
And now those behind the project have revealed their vision for the B-listed building and the adjoining former YWCA.
The vision will see the three former cinema screens returned to one large auditorium that would host an audience of between 1750 and 2000, while the former YWCA would be adapted to form a high end corporate event space and a fine dining restaurant.
However, before the plans can come to fruition, those behind the project are seeking support from members of the public, businesses and councillors to help make their vision happen.
A crowdfunding video was launched on Monday to help raise £30,000 that would enable viability studies and initial works to be carried out on the buildings.
In just 48 hours it had raised over £1600 and has been watched over 27,000 times.
Grant Foster, a director of Kings Theatre Kirkcaldy Ltd, said he hoped that by revitalising the building and providing an entertainment facility to serve the people of Kirkcaldy and further afield it could also help to rejuvenate the town centre.
Once complete it is hoped that the venue can attract top quality entertainment including the likes of Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet and the RSNO, as well as touring musicals and some big name bands.
It’s also a chance to inspire and entertain future theatre, arts, and music lovers for generations to come.
He said: “We hope to take it back to what it originally was.
“It’s such a historic building in the town.
“We’d be hoping to attract the bigger arts events that you don’t see in Fife unless in a smaller format.
“Public support is key to the whole project.
“We need cross party support and for everyone to get involved and come together to help make it happen and hopefully bring more people into the town.”
Following Monday’s announcement on the vision for the buildings, some have expressed disappointment that the building will not reopen as a cinema.
Grant explained: “To return the building to a cinema would mean we’d have to rebuild the walls to make three cinemas again and we fully believe that Kirkcaldy needs a bigger multiplex and that in this day and age that’s not suitable in a building of this size.
“We wouldn’t want to step on the toes of any plans to bring a cinema to town.
“The Adam Smith Theatre does a good job showing films and then there’s the Kino in Glenrothes and the Regent in Leven, as well as the Odeon in Dunfermline offering something for a cinema audience.
“Our business model is based on getting people from outwith Kirkcaldy to visit the town and then everyone can benefit.
“It’s about having something to attract people to Kirkcaldy again and a cinema wouldn’t do that.
“We understand that a lot of theatres within Scotland are subsidised by organisations like Creative Scotland, but we will be trying to attempt not to do that and to stand on our own feet which is where the YWCA is so integral to the plans.
“It will become a world class corporate event space.
“We’re looking to provide companies with the option to go local and the facility will be as good technically as any you’d find in Edinburgh or Glasgow.”
Grant added that Kings Theatre Kirkcaldy Ltd is currently working with the current owner of the buildings to come to an amicable agreement on a longterm lease of the properties.
He said: “The money raised through the crowdfunding will be used for feasibility and indepth building surveys, structural reports, pre-planning applications and warrants, and to ensure the building is wind and water tight.
“If we have a harsh winter there’s not going to much left of the building to save.”
It is hoped that the Kings Theatre Kirkcaldy would be open by autumn 2018 but a lot depends on public support.
To view the crowd funding video and show support for the project search for ‘Kings Theatre Kirkcaldy’ on Facebook or visit the crowdfunding page www.crowdfunder.co.uk/kings-theatre-kirkcaldy-3
A question and answer session has been completed on the project’s Facebook page this week, but in addition, it is planned to host a public consultation event in the town over the next couple of weeks. A date is yet to be set for this, but it will give people the chance to find out more if they have not been able to view the question and answer session online.
Among the issues that have been raised following the announcement on Monday has been one relating to parking. Grant Foster said this week: “Parking has been raised as a possible issue and we appreciate it’s a hot potato at the moment.
“Our analysis is there are three large car parks around the area that we think would offer capacity. We’d invite positive discussion with the Council and vendors to resolve parking in the town centre.”