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The Iris

The Iris Playhouse: A New Arts Venue In The Heart of Ayr.

In July 2019, The Iris Arts Ayr CIC began the journey to create a Community Arts hub in the heart of Ayr.

We are breathing a new lease of life into the much loved former Darlington Church and Borderline Theatre which has sadly been unused since 2009. 

A truly stunning building with surviving original features, we took on the challenge of revitalising it. As an important part of Ayr's civic heritage we want ensure that the building serves the people of South Ayrshire once again.

Working with skilled tradespeople, enthusiastic volunteers and supported by local organisations, we have engaged and consulted with our community each step of the way. 


Our new fresh, vibrant arts hub will include a 160 seater community cinema and theatre and live music venue. With our cafe/bar and a studio space for hire, we want our communities to thrive, to be entertained and positively engaged. We will create a safe place where barriers to accessing arts and entertainment are constantly challenged. An affordable, accessible space that all audiences, community organisations and residents can enjoy.

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160 Seater

Arts Venue &


The Story So Far

Built in 1860, the Category B Listed Darlington Church has held pride of place to the gateway of Ayr Town Centre, with its riverside location serving the residents of Ayr North for decades. Many Ayr North residents have used the Darlington Church for weddings, christenings and a place for the community to gather.

The Darlington Church then became the home of the Borderline Theatre Co. in the 1980s, with renowned actors such as Robbie Coltrane, Elaine C Smith and Alan Cumming treading the boards for Ayrshire audiences. Sadly, the venue was to become a casualty of a change in landscape in terms of arts funding and closed its doors in 2009, where it lay dormant until we ran a community consultation and shared our plans to bring the building back to life again. These plans were championed by our communities and after a long period of working hard during the pandemic, the sale of the building to The Iris Arts Ayr CIC was completed in September 2022. Since then we have been making massive improvements to the structure and interior of the building, preparing to open our doors to audiences once again.

Our communities deserve a quality, accessible arts venue that attracts a high calibre of arts and entertainment to the region, but at an affordable price. They deserve to have their voices represented, whether that is in how the space operates, or their thoughts, experiences, challenges and ideas shown on stage and screen. They deserve a space to be creative, uninhibited and relaxed, a home for good things to happen.

This building has the community embedded in the bricks. We have gathered here, expressed our love here, brought our children here. We have said goodbye here; we have laughed, shared our views and changed lives here. It's time to bring this building back to life and bring our past into a bright new future.

Find Out More!

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