Boost for future of historic ‘at risk’ theatre building

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Funding has been granted to commission a study which could help secure the future of Doncaster’s Grand Theatre.

Theatres Trust, the national advisory body for theatres, has announced Doncaster Grand Theatre is one of four UK theatres which will receive a share of £45,000 from the third round of its Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme.

The Doncaster Grand is an ornate Grade II listed Victorian theatre. It has been on the Theatre Trust’s at Risk Register since the list started in 2006.

Doncaster Council has been awarded a Theatres at Risk Capacity Building grant of £11,500 to part-fund a viability study for the theatre.

The study will be led by the council with involvement from the Friends of Doncaster Grand Theatre and the building owner, Frenchgate Limited Partnership.

Councillor Nigel Ball, cabinet member for public health, leisure, culture and planning, said: “We are delighted our bid for funding was successful.

“The Grand Theatre is a much loved building in the heart of Doncaster town centre which we want to help bring back to life with our partners the Friends of Doncaster Grand Theatre, the Frenchgate Shopping Centre who own the building and the Theatres Trust.

“The grant will help us commission a study to identify potential viable options for its future so it can hopefully play its part in complementing the recently completed railway station forecourt redevelopment nearby and the many other regeneration schemes we are undertaking to revitalise Doncaster town centre like the Danum Gallery, Library and Museum and the new Savoy Doncaster leisure complex in our Civic and Cultural Quarter.”

Karen Staniforth, The Frenchgate Shopping Centre general manager, added: “Although it’s early days, this is a positive step forward for the future preservation of the Grand Theatre.

“It will contribute to the wider plans for the Frenchgate Shopping Centre and Doncaster town centre.”

The programme is designed to support theatres on the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Register to commission expert advice and acquire the skills and knowledge to push forward capital projects to help save these architecturally important theatres.

Alongside the grant, each theatre will receive free support from the Theatres Trust advice team.

Claire Appleby, architecture adviser at Theatres Trust, said: “We believe every theatre on our Theatres at Risk list has the potential to be returned for use by their communities, providing performance venues of types currently lacking in their local areas and bringing much needed footfall to beleaguered high streets.

“We are pleased to support these theatres as we know from experience that these early stages can make a crucial difference to the progress of theatre revitalisation projects.”

Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme is made possible thanks to the support of The Pilgrim Trust and Swire Charitable Trust, with the past two rounds also funded by Historic England.