TWO theatres in Perthshire are among the first to benefit from emergency support from the first wave of Scottish Government aid.

Horsecross Arts has received £749,000, and Pitlochry Festival Theatre £425,000 from the Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund. 

The fund is designed to support performing arts venues that cannot yet re-open due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key goals include a bid to remove the threat of insolvency prior to the end of March 2021; to enable the development and delivery of activity as soon as practicable allow for specialist and core staff to return from furlough or avoid redundancy to work on future sustainable activity plans; and to increase commissioning and employment opportunities for freelance artists and creative practitioners (between now and end of March 2021) to support continued public engagement while closed. 

Horsecross Arts, the creative organisation and charity behind Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre, and Pitlochry Festival Theatre are among twenty venues across Scotland to receive funding from the first strand of the Scottish Government's £12.5m Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund, through Creative Scotland. 

Nick Williams, chief executive of Horsecross Arts, said: “It is a huge relief to receive this funding. It helps us set the organisation on a secure financial footing and enables us to focus on interim programming, allowing us to commission a number of artists to create new work for our communities while our venues are closed.

"It also helps us in our determination to bounce back when live performances are legally permitted in our venues, economically viable and safe.” 

Kris Bryce, executive director of Pitlochry Festival Theatre, said: "We are relieved to receive this £400,000 from the Scottish Government. As the largest employer of freelance theatre artists in Scotland, this vital support will enable Pitlochry Festival Theatre to continue to serve its communities through the Covid-19 pandemic.  

"As many know, we generate around 85 per cent of our income each year through our programme and so we are looking forward to welcoming theatre audiences to Highland Perthshire as soon as possible.

"We would like to thank the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland for their support at this difficult time. With this investment from the Performing Arts Venue Relief Fund, we can look to the future and plan our 70th birthday next year.

"The money will help us to continue to make work for people across the country, to be a theatre for all and a theatre for a lifetime.” 

Recipients of the second strand of the Performing Arts Venues Fund, an open fund of £5m, will be announced in due course. 

Iain Munro, CEO at Creative Scotland, added: “There are significant challenges facing Scotland’s culture sector, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

"This funding for performing arts venues is much needed and will help organisations tackle these challenges, but we are aware that budgets are finite and it is not possible to provide financial assistance to every organisation through this route at this time.  

“The Covid-19 emergency funds announced for the culture sector so far are not, by any means, the end of the support to be offered and there will be more announcements to come, not least in terms of how the £97m Scotland has received for culture and heritage as a result of the UK Government’s funding package is to be applied.

"The precise nature of this is still being determined and, beyond what has already been made available, Creative Scotland is working closely with the Scottish Government to actively discuss further support for the culture sector, including for those who may not have received funding previously.”