New Vic set for Major Refurbishment in 2020

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The New Vic Theatre
The New Vic Theatre. Image: Andrew Billington

The New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme has been awarded £353,225 by Arts Council England to help upgrade its famous theatre-in-the-round.

The funding award will enable the theatre to start a major fundraising and project plan that will see the most significant investment in the theatre’s main auditorium for over 30 years. The work is set to transform the much-loved venue, improving customer experience, increasing accessibility and enabling more people to engage with the theatre’s shows, education and community work. The improvements will allow the theatre to make the most of its building – Europe’s first purpose-built theatre-in-the-round – and maximise seating in the auditorium.

Plans for the project include replacing the theatre’s 600 seats, improving the theatre balcony, building a new stage and improving access for theatregoers. The work will complement investment in the theatre’s other public areas completed in 2015.

Fiona Wallace, Managing Director of the New Vic Theatre said: “Our unique in-the-round auditorium is the meeting place for our art and audiences. Thirty three years after the theatre was built, after welcoming over three million theatregoers, the auditorium urgently needs investment. We are very grateful to Arts Council England for this vital funding and support of our project. This investment is over and above everything we have done so far to maintain and repair the auditorium and seating, and will offer a step-change in terms of audience experience. We are looking forward to engaging theatregoers in the process now that we have the green light to go ahead.”

Peter Knott, Area Director of Arts Council England, said: “Our Capital: Small Grants programme provides organisations with vital funding to ensure that buildings and equipment are appropriate to support and host exciting work for the public. We’re pleased to be supporting the New Vic as they continue to make their iconic theatre a more accessible and enjoyable place to experience live theatre.”

The timescale for the project will see the theatre take an extended break from producing shows in Summer 2020, with the closure of the main auditorium during the works. All other areas of the theatre building will remain open throughout the project.

The investment is part of the Arts Council’s National Lottery funded Small Capital programme, which will see a total of £2,427,380 supporting organisations in the Midlands. The New Vic is one of 46 organisations across the country who will receive investment from the Capital: Small Grants programme in the latest round of funding. The programme supports organisations to develop resilience and become more sustainable, ensuring they have the right buildings and equipment to be able to produce and present great work, benefiting audiences, artists and communities across the country.

The New Vic will run a fundraising campaign to meet the overall target for the project of £600,000. Further details of the redevelopment project and accompanying fundraising campaign will be available on the theatre’s website at newvictheatre.org.uk soon.