Portsmouth’s New Theatre Royal reaches funding target

LIGHTS An artist's impression of how the revamped New Theatre Royal will look
LIGHTS An artist's impression of how the revamped New Theatre Royal will look
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PORTSMOUTH’S New Theatre Royal has reached its target figure of £4m needed to rebuild part of the fire-damaged playhouse.

The last piece of funding of £350,000 came from the Monument Trust and the Foyle Foundation in support of the restoration of the oldest theatre in the city.

It means plans to transform the areas of the Guildhall Walk theatre’s backlot destroyed by fire in 1972 can be submitted to Portsmouth City Council this week.

Building will start in January next year if plans are accepted, and it’s hoped the work will be completed by summer 2014.

Theatre director Caroline Sharman said: ‘We are truly delighted to receive this funding from two of the country’s largest family trusts and foundations.

‘Their support of the theatre’s vision and the impact and benefits the redevelopment will have on Portsmouth and the surrounding area recognises this as a project on a national scale.’

The joint project with the University of Portsmouth will also establish a new Creative Learning Centre to nurture local talent.

It’s hoped the centre, dedicated to the late Oscar-winning Isle of Wight film director Anthony Minghella, will create a thriving ‘theatre quarter’ within the city.

Caroline added: ‘It’s all about developing skills in the city that can be sent out to the 
world under the branding of Made in Portsmouth.

‘At the moment we bring a lot of work into Portsmouth, but we don’t produce it.

‘This will give us the opportunity to change that and get the city’s creative skills out there, which is really exciting.’

Former plans to include an accommodation block for 110 students above the theatre – which had received planning approval from the council last year – have been scrapped, so a second application is required.

The listed building has also received money from Arts Council England, the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (Push), Portsmouth City Council, Arts Council South East and the Heritage Lottery Fund.