A grant from Creative Scotland’s Performing Arts Venue Relief Fund has allowed Leith Theatre to secure a small staff team of expertise, enabling them to produce a mini-series of digital gigs and provide vital incomes for industry professionals and production crew as well as for the musicians and artists themselves.

Hosted by Vic Galloway, this programme – ‘Live in Leith’ – will be streamed over three consecutive Saturdays starting this March via the online platform DICE and will help to showcase and establish up-and-coming young Scottish artists at what is undoubtedly a crucial time in their careers.

Galloway said, “I’m delighted to be involved in presenting the ‘Live in Leith’ series for Leith Theatre. As a long-time resident of Leith, it’s so satisfying and inspiring to see this legendary theatre come to life once again. Its history is rich and varied, but ‘Live in Leith’ is also a great opportunity to bring the space into 2021 with 3 exciting music programmes.

“We’re not only showcasing some brilliant local talent here, but also shining a spotlight on the building itself as one of Scotland’s best Music and Arts Venues. I hope you enjoy the shows and see the potential of the wonderful Leith Theatre!”

All of the artists will be captured playing a 25-minute set in real time, to create a live concert feel and the broadcasts will include introductions and on-stage interviews with host, Vic Galloway. Each gig will feature two artists, the first duo being Connor Fyfe (youngest musician to sell out at King Tut’s in Glasgow), and Retro Video Club.

Shining a light on new music (in Scotland) has been key to the programme’s conception. ‘Live in Leith’ aims to nurture fresh talent by providing a harbour – a safe space – for those who are sacrificing their incomes to pursue careers in music at what is always a tender time, no matter what the economic situation or industry climate.

Callum Jones Leith Theatre’s Programme Coordinator, “Having graduated from my Honours degree in Music Business back in Spring 2020, it was daunting to see that the industry in which I had studied for a career had, in many ways, from a live music perspective, been decimated. However, Performance Arts Venue Relief funding via Creative Scotland allowed Leith Theatre to retain me on a full-time basis and in a new role as Programme Coordinator. Our intention was then to create a digital programme which would showcase up-and-coming Scottish talent, providing an income stream for artists when there are currently so few alternatives.

“By doing so, we have been able to provide work for industry professionals across the sector and re-engage with our pre-existing network and supply chain. The funding has allowed us to deliver a high quality, digital offering for music fans to enjoy from the safety of their own homes. Our ambition is to establish Leith Theatre as a home for new music in Scotland by supporting the development of artists. I hope the broadcasts can provide some much-needed respite until we can welcome visitors back to Leith Theatre.”

If the funding is the anchor for the whole programme, the theatre itself is certainly the port, a place that has inspired many musicians to return already since the first stage of its revival in 2017: The Snuts for example, played as part of EH6 festival back in November 2018 and Teenage Fanclub featured in EIF’s offering in August 2019. Both bands have since returned to film their latest singles in the theatre’s auditorium in 2020.

Though Leith Theatre’s doors have been closed to the public for almost a full year now, closed sets like these have been able to take place. In 2020 the theatre was also home to the virtual edition of Scotland’s annual Wide Days music convention, EIF’s ‘My Light Shines On’ recordings featuring Honeyblood and Breabach and Posable Action Figures’ latest music video for a single in their debut album.

Leith Theatre was once a music machine in the form of legendary gigs of the seventies and eighties and is well on its way to becoming a well-oiled one for today in the new twenties through such productions.

© Ryan Buchanan

Lynn Morrison, Chief Executive Leith Theatre said, “It is a dream come true to be producing our very first in-house ‘Live In Leith’ programme from our grand auditorium. This programme has allowed us to see what is possible, brought a greatly missed creative network back into the building and enabled us to showcase incredible live music in a new way.

“Thank you to Creative Scotland and the Performance Arts Venue Relief Fund: the whole production process has been exciting and challenging and we hope that this is just the start of new futures! This launch will mark a new chapter and in doing so the theatre hopes to establish itself as the home for new music in Scotland.”

Just as the Port of Leith once fostered connections as a confluence of old and new, production and industry – a stage that was both world-class and local – ‘Live in Leith’ aims to cultivate all of these elements and bring entertainment home in 2021 (and beyond). The theatre, where community has always been at the heart of its role as a civic centre, wants to help raise the next generation of musicians, industry professionals and crew right here in Leith, safe in the knowledge that exploring the unfamiliar and investing in what is new and inspiring is always in all of our best interests.

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Live in Leith:
March 20th: Connor Fyfe and Retro Video Club. https://link.dice.fm/fcw7qwAYEdb
March 27th: Ransom FA and Nova Scotia the Truth. https://link.dice.fm/jzbf9SAOJdb
April 3rd: The Ninth Wave and Lucia & The Best Boys. https://link.dice.fm/6LLm13nUJdb

Tickets on sale Friday the 12th February at 10am at https://dice.fm (see direct links above) and will cost £11.50

Top image © Gaelle Beri-111