Theatre Royal optimistic people will support fundraising campaign for facelift
THE boss of the Theatre Royal says he is "cautiously optimistic" that members of the public will rally round to help fund the landmark venue a multi-million pound facelift.
Adrian Vinken, chief executive of Theatre Royal Plymouth, spoke out after concerns were expressed about the possible impact of the scheme at a council meeting.
Plymouth City Council this week gave the theatre a £2million boost.
Councillors approved a package of measures that will help to lever in £5million of funding from the Arts Council to give the theatre a once-in-a-generation refurbishment.
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The deal will see the city's subsidy for the next three years paid as a lump sum of £1,995,000, to act as match funding for the Arts Council money.
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.
In this week's meeting of the full city council, Cllr Patrick Nicholson (Con, Plympton St Mary) asked how the theatre would manage if its fund-raising efforts fell short.
And Cllr Glenn Jordan (Con, Plympton Chaddlewood) shared the concerns about the theatre's revenue.
But he said: "We sometimes take the theatre for granted. It is one of the best producing theatres outside London – if not the best."
In response theatre boss Mr Vinken said: "We expect that the people of Plymouth and the South West will continue to come to shows to the same level that they have done in the past.
"We are cautiously optimistic that businesses, theatregoers and our other supporters in the region and around the country will be prepared to support this new fundraising appeal to a similar level to that provided in the past.
"If there were a shortfall in fundraising, just as if we sold fewer tickets to our shows, then we would have to do what any business does and adjust its business model accordingly."
Cllr Mark Lowry, the Cabinet member for finance, said the council had "carried out due diligence" before pushing ahead with the funding arrangements. The theatre brings in £26 million a year to the city's economy and the refurbishment will create temporary construction jobs and a number of extra full-time posts.
The 1982 theatre will 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 with a terraced balcony and new bars and shops.
The theatre must wait until the end of October to find out whether it has won the 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 performances at TR2 while work is under way.
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