Plymouth City Council agreess £2million lump sum for Theatre Royal upgrade
PLANS to transform one of the city's top entertainment venues have been given a £2million lift-off.
Councillors yesterday approved a package of measures that will help to lever in £5million of funding from the Arts Council to give the Plymouth Theatre Royal a once-in-a-generation facelift.
Theatre bosses, who are hoping for vital Arts Council backing, are preparing to launch a public appeal for cash in a bid to begin work next year.
Upgrading the 1982 theatre would see it get a glass-fronted extension housing a new entrance from a freshly landscaped Royal Parade.
The ambitious plans include a workshop area with its own theatrical space, a café complete with a terraced balcony and brand new bars and shops.
Members of Plymouth City Council's Cabinet, meeting yesterday, approved the package which will see the city's subsidy for the next three years paid as a lump sum of £1,995,000.
The council, which owns the building on Royal Parade, will lease it to Theatre Royal Plymouth Ltd for 30 years at a peppercorn rent, and give consent for the alterations.
The Arts Council has already provisionally allocated £5 million on condition the Theatre Royal finds £2 million of match funding and negotiates a new lease on the building.
Cllr Mark Lowry, the Cabinet member for finance, said the theatre brought in £26 million a year to the city's economy.
The refurbishment would create temporary construction jobs and a number of extra full-time posts.
The refurbishment would also reduce the council's liability to repair the external aluminium cladding for about 30 years.
Architects have already drawn up plans for the city centre landmark, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary year.
Despite regular improvements indoors, the building itself has never had a large-scale revamp.
The latest plans include re-cladding all 1,300sq metres of the venue's walls – a move that would also improve energy efficiency by up to 40 per cent.
A two-storey extension would include a new front entrance, with improved access from a re-landscaped area off Royal Parade, also creating an informal outdoor performance area.
On the ground floor, a new shop and café space would sit beside a relocated box office.
Above the entrance would be a "high-profile members' space" and outdoor terrace, along with an extended first-floor restaurant.
The existing members' bar and outdated dressing rooms would make way for a huge creative learning area in the building's basement.
A centrepiece of the plans, the space would house community projects involving some of Plymouth's most disadvantaged people – many of which are already in full swing at the theatre's out-of-town creative hub, TR2, in Cattedown.
At the rear of the building there would be a new car park entrance and more landscaping around the historic but hidden away Derry's Clock.
The theatre must wait until the end of October to find out whether it has won the all-important grant.
Sponsors, businesses and city people will be asked to dig deep to make up the shortfall.
If successful, the revamp would shut the theatre to the public for six months, but bosses have asked for a licence allowing them to run performances at TR2 while work is under way.