COMMENT: The reality is that historic venues can’t live in the past

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These are exciting times for culture in our city.

The New Theatre Royal has already had a £4.5m revamp that has expanded the main auditorium and created a new performance space.

There are also plans to redevelop the Kings Theatre in Southsea to improve facilities and increase community engagement.

Today we reveal how a £15m renaissance project could also bring Portsmouth Guildhall into the 21st century, with the first phase of redevelopment seeing a smaller studio created within the imposing Guildhall Square building.

We’re very lucky to have three such historic venues in the city. But the reality is that they cannot live in the past.

The key is to retain their heritage whilst at the same making them more multi-functional and modern.

Of course, any redevelopment is only going to be possible if sufficient funding can be attracted. You can have all the ambitious visions in the word, but they won’t make it off the drawing board unless the cash is found to make them a reality.

So we think it’s sensible that the ambitious programme of redevelopment of the Guildhall will be completed in several stages over the next 10 years. That means it can stay open.

Turning the tired Harlequin Room into a studio will help to increase revenue as well as promote local talent.

Then overhauling the foyers, bar areas, toilets, the backstage area and the main concert hall, plus expanding its capacity to 3,000, will improve the customer experience and make it a more attractive proposition to big-name acts.

We believe the strength and sustainability of any cultural offering lies in its diversity.

So as the search for funding continues, we urge local businesses and individuals to consider giving a helping hand.