Community can benefit from revamp of theatre

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The campaign to restore Portsmouth’s New Theatre Royal has been a real labour of love for some of those who have supported it since the beginning.

Almost 40 years have passed since plans were first launched to return this beautiful old building to its former glory.

Now nearly £1m has been handed over to turn a dream into reality.

Securing this money from the Heritage Lottery Fund is a great achievement and we congratulate all those who have been involved – both past and present – in making this happen.

The money will allow the theatre to press ahead with its plans to transform unused space at the back into a learning zone for the community. And of course the Grade II listed building will also benefit from renovation work that should preserve it for generations to come.

We’re lucky to have so many of our historical buildings still in a good state of repair and available for regular use.

Preserving our architecture is an expensive business but vital if we want to retain the character of our towns and cities.

Of course, restoration projects like this actually go above and beyond mere bricks and mortar.

This grant symbolises something more significant than just a period of building work or a face-lift for the future.

The project will allow the New Theatre Royal to reach out into the community that surrounds it.

Local groups will be able to use the new learning centre and more people will benefit from apprenticeships.

Not everyone wants to go to the theatre. But that doesn’t mean the arts have nothing to offer them.

Bringing people together has always been a key function of any theatre and we’re delighted to see there’s now an opportunity to build on that.

Of course, knowing the money is there is only the start.

There’s a lot of hard work still to be done. All those supporters who have worked so tirelessly to make this happen will be required to roll up their sleeves soon enough.

For now though, we hope they sit back and enjoy it.