Arts Council Award for Theatre

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The Arts Council today confirmed a commitment of £5 million towards the Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Regeneration Project subject to the theatre raising an additional £2 million. The whole project has been made possible thanks to a major partnership commitment by Plymouth City Council.

The proposed redevelopment will see the re-cladding of the building which will cut energy costs; an extension to the front of the building allowing level access; a new box office, shop and cafe area; an outdoor terrace; an extended restaurant and a new studio space in the basement which will provide a city centre location for work with young people and community groups.

The planned works which, if the theatre is successful in raising the additional funds, will begin in April 2013 and would take 6 months to complete. The theatre would then reopen in September 2013 with the launch the first UK tour of the National Theatre’s production of War Horse. During the theatre’s possible closure period plans are being discussed to run an alternative theatre at TR2, the Theatre Royal’s site in Cattedown.

The theatre’s Chief Executive Adrian Vinken OBE said: “We are delighted with today’s announcement and most grateful to the Arts Council for its endorsement of our plans to modernise and improve the Theatre Royal. We also want to thank the City Council for its visionary partnership commitment without which the project could not possibly go ahead.

We all want to ensure the Theatre Royal remains Plymouth’s cultural centre of excellence and secure its future for generations to come. This Regeneration Project will not only reinvigorate the theatre itself, but it will also contribute to the regeneration of Plymouth, reflecting the city’s ambition and creativity, and its pride in its most significant cultural institution.”

Arts Council England’s Director for the South West, Phil Gibby said: “This project will provide a boost to the Theatre Royal, creating more space and making the building more useable, more attractive and more energy efficient. This will benefit audiences, those who participate in educational activities at the theatre and contribute to Plymouth’s culture and regeneration.”

On hearing the announcement today, Plymouth City Council Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Mark Lowry said: “This is excellent news and hopefully it’s all systems go for the Theatre Royal’s regeneration plans. Here in Plymouth we have a theatre that is not only groundbreaking in its work with the community and its creativity, but has the third highest economic impact of all theatres in the UK after the National and the RSC in Stratford-Upon-Avon. That is a phenomenal statistic and one that’s particularly striking in these tough economic times.

We’ve been mindful of our own budget pressures and are delighted we can support the theatre with its ambitions by being smarter with how we allocate funds – without spending any more council tax payer’s money.”

The Theatre will only be able to get the Arts Council cash and carry out the redevelopment if it can raise a further £2 million from business sponsors, supporters, and trusts. To date £750,000 has been raised towards this target. Mr Vinken said “Throughout the last 30 years the Theatre Royal has been blessed with incredibly loyal support and our heartfelt thanks go to those individuals and businesses who have already generously contributed to our fundraising campaign. There is still much work to be done but, even in these tough economic times, we are cautiously optimistic that the support of local people, however modest, will help ensure that the Theatre Royal continues to be the South West’s cultural beacon for the next 50 years.”

Full details of how people can pledge their support will be announced in the coming days.

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