THE partnership with runs Ayr's iconic Gaiety Theatre says it has come out of the pandemic a ‘stronger’ organisation.

The Ayr Gaiety Partnership (AGP), which operates the historic venue, had to rely on funding from South Ayrshire Council to keep it going throughout the pandemic, particularly when the theatre was forced to shut its doors during lockdown.

In its annual report to South Ayrshire Council’s service and partnerships panel next week, the group stated that 2022/23 was the first year when its funding from the council had returned to pre-covid levels.

The report states: “This enabled Ayr Gaiety Partnership to continue to run the Gaiety theatre and to continue and extend its work in communities.

“We are creative and our vibrant and diverse cultures are expressed and enjoyed widely. This links closely with South Ayrshire Council’s own priority around civic and community pride.

“In addition The Gaiety and our wider activity support and link to other council

priorities, including: Work and economy: as a social enterprise and employer we directly create jobs in the town.

“But we also bring visitors to the town and, through our Gaiety on Tour, to other venues around South Ayrshire – and in turn help build the wider tourism offer.

“Notably this year it is clear that many people are coming to Ayr rather than travel to theatres in Glasgow and beyond.”

AGP say that the theatre was directly responsible for £2 million being spent in the area.

They explained: “While some of this was paid to touring companies the majority was to local suppliers, locally resident staff and freelancers.”

Overall, they say, the economic impact will be even higher.

AGP report a number of key figures in the report, saying it also delivered income of more than £10 for every £1 of council support, the retention of 14 permanent jobs, and performances to 61,700 attendees – 40 percent of whom came from outwith South Ayrshire.

They also point to work on reducing inequality, supporting rural areas and poorer communities and in schools.

“Increasingly our work with schools supports educational achievement, again with a particular focus on schools where pupils face particular challenges.”

Wallacetown, which is one of the most deprived areas in Scotland, was a major focus, they said, including collections for the local food bank, a regular theatre group for primary pupils, and a writing group supporting recovery and generating a new play and at least two new novels.

“All are examples of our growing track record of success in creative engagement that is gathering national attention," the report added.

“Events including Tamfest and the National Festival of Youth Theatre where The Gaiety acted as a key partner to enable both events to happen, bringing local people into the street and visitors to the area.

“The Gaiety has emerged from the pandemic as a stronger organization with a much enhanced and expanded range of activity.

“Our new agreement with South Ayrshire Council will underpin our activity for the next four years and should enable us to secure backing for developments.”