Future of historic venue secured with funding deal

THE long-term future of recently refurbished York Theatre Royal has been secured thanks to investment from York Conservation Trust and Yorkshire Bank.

The £6m redevelopment undertaken by William Birch and Sons began in March 2015 and involved around 20 sub-contractors employing a workforce of more than 100 at different stages of the project.

The theatre itself now directly employs more than 70 fulltime staff, not including individual theatre teams.

Sold to York Conservation Trust for £1 in January 2015, the success of the refurbishment project was initially under threat when the extent of roof damage was uncovered by a Trust survey report. With water leaking onto the stage and auditorium, it would have been senseless to invest millions of pounds on the internal refurbishment until it was fixed.  

Taking on the job of fixing the roof and other external repairs cost more than £1.5m –which was funded by Yorkshire Bank. The funding deal was delivered by Jeremy Bowers, relationship manager for North Yorkshire.

Other improvements to the building include improved sightlines, additional seating, more access to the building, in addition to an open plan foyer and a new canopy over the entrance.

Since reopening in April, the theatre has seen thousands of people pass through the doors.

Philip Thake, chief executive of the York Conservation Trust, said: “York Theatre Royal is a magnificent building and is steeped in history. It’s the Trust’s duty to preserve such landmarks which is why we took on the project. We look forward to seeing how production teams take advantage of the improvements and additional space at the theatre to give customers an even better theatre experience.

“Yorkshire Bank has been extremely understanding and helpful throughout the regeneration process. They understood the scale of the job and the amount of support required, having worked on similar restoration projects with us in the past.”

Yorkshire Bank’s Jeremy Bowers said: “It’s fantastic to see that the Theatre Royal’s future is now secure, thanks to the work of local organisations such as York Conservation Trust. A functioning landmark and community theatre which provides substantial employment and entertainment for the local area, can only be a good thing for the region.

“Yorkshire Bank remains committed to supporting the ambitions and projects of organisations such as the York Conservation Trust.”