PLANS to redevelop the Kings Theatre have been given a major boost after the first phase of funding was secured.
Portsmouth City Council has granted the Kings Theatre Trust, which runs the historic Southsea venue, £200,000 to kick-start its ambitious expansion project.
The money will be used to draw up a business plan and refurbish a shop in Albert Road which the theatre owns and turn it into a rehearsal space.
The cash was set aside in the council’s capital budget in February and Councillor Lee Hunt, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, announced the money could definitely be used at a meeting on Friday.
The council is now helping the trust secure lottery grants which will pay for expansion works.
Cash would also be spent on renovating existing toilets, bars and stairwells.
Ian Pratt, vice-chairman of the Kings Theatre Trust, said: ‘The problem at the moment is the Kings Theatre was built in 1907.
‘It’s absolutely beautiful but it was built to the social structure of the day.
‘So in the 21st century we have crowded stairwells, corridors and bars. What we do have is beautiful and we want to make things better.’
Mr Pratt assured visitors that the theatre’s character and charm won’t be lost.
‘The core of the auditorium and stage will stay the same,’ he said.
‘In doing this it will make the theatre more sustainable and more inviting and a better business because we can make more money.’
The creation of an education space will help to enhance the programme of activities it offers to youngsters.
Up to six full and part-time paid positions could also be made available.
Mr Pratt said: ‘We are also doing it to help regenerate the city.
‘We knew all around the country that a brilliant way to regenerate a city is to develop its culture.
‘We are really grateful that the council released the grant.’
Cllr Hunt said: ‘The council wants to continue supporting the Kings Theatre.
‘We want it to be sustainable and it is a very important part of the city’s culture.’