Great news for Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre
Arts Council England have confirmed that Liverpool’s Royal Court has been successful in its bid for £2m from the capital grants funding programme.
The Arts Council’s large capital grants support organisations to improve existing buildings to make them more economically and environmentally sustainable, and give arts organisations the right buildings and equipment to support the delivery of their work.
The Arts Council assessed the project against criteria including long-term sustainability and resilience, the potential for partnership funding, and whether the organisation is able to manage and deliver the work proposed.
The £2m will be spent on Act III of The Court’s £11m renovation scheme which has been designed by Paul Monaghan of architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris. Act III is scheduled to take place from May this year, with the theatre going dark between until mid August to allow the work to begin.
Act III will cost £2.9m in total and will include the building of a brand new 150 seat studio space in the basement of the venue which will be used for small scale comedy and music events, as well as small theatre productions which could then be developed for the main auditorium. It will also be used by the Youth Theatre and Community Choir for rehearsals and performances.
More work will be done in the Front Of House areas, remodelling the balcony seating and creating a larger, more open bar area on the third and fourth floors. This will complement the work done on the first and second floors during Act II of the renovation, which will finish later this month.
There will also be a substantial investment backstage with work being done on the dressing rooms and renewing technical equipment.
The Royal Court Theatre attracted funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2011 and invested over £1.2 million in the first phase of improvements. This work focussed on the auditorium which is now the only purpose designed, art deco, cabaret-style theatre in the country. The unique presentation of theatre in a more relaxed setting with pre-show dining attracts tourists and visitors as well as local people, many of whom are not regular theatre-goers.
Act II was part funded by a European Regional Development Fund grant matched with a loan from Liverpool City Council and created an exciting new foyer extension to the theatre, a brand new box office, improved access by way of a lift to all floors of the building and a first floor terrace.
Following Act II the theatre won The British Construction Industry Award for Best Building Of The Year (under £10m) and Architects Journal Retrofit Of The Year Award. It has also been shortlisted for Theatre Building Of The Year in the upcoming The Stage Awards and a national Civic Trust Award.
Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said:
“Our capital programme supports a wide range of really exciting proposals to allow our arts and cultural organisations to thrive, for the benefit of artists and audiences across the country.”
Alison Clark, Director North, Arts Council England said, ‘We are pleased to be able to support the redevelopment of this art deco theatre to help its building to become fully accessible as well as financially and environmentally sustainable.’
Gillian Miller, Chief Executive of Liverpool’s Royal Court, is looking forward to the next stage: “This is great news for us and for our audience. We have drawn up detailed plans for Act III and, once it is completed, we know that the venue will be a much nicer place for both actors and audiences. Arts Council England have been very supportive and we hope that this will be the start of a long working relationship.”
Act III will start later this year and complete the renovation of the theatre. Apart from the initial three month period, the theatre will remain open throughout with minimal disruption to the programme and its extensive education and participation activities.