Thanet District Council is inviting members of the public to learn about the ambitious project to restore and reinvigorate the Theatre Royal in Margate as part of the Margate Town Deal.
A public drop-in session will take place on Thursday 7 December between 2pm and 7pm, at the Theatre Royal, Addington Street, Margate CT9 1PW.
This is an opportunity for local residents and stakeholders to find out about the new vision for the Theatre Royal and view early plans to open the building at 19 Hawley Square as a theatrical production house. The event also marks the launch of the council’s search for a new operator for the theatre.
Boards will be on display showing the potential plans for the building. Members of the public will have the opportunity to meet and engage with the council’s project team and architects who will be on hand to answer questions. There will be an opportunity to give initial feedback about some of the information on display.
The new vision for the Theatre Royal combines heritage, performance and a move towards financial sustainability. It focuses on the venue’s 245 years of performance heritage, bringing together the need to conserve, restore and modernise both the theatre and 19 Hawley Square. The ambition is to create a nationally significant performing arts hub in Margate; the plans are designed to increase the artistic and financial opportunities to support the historic theatre and to raise the profile of performing arts in the district. This includes developing 19 Hawley Square to include a bar and cafe, 50 seat studio theatre, sound recording studio, rehearsal rooms/dance studio, offices and accommodation for touring theatre companies.
The Theatre Royal project has been allocated £2.2m of funding as part of the Margate Town Deal. However, the success of the project is reliant on securing significant funding from external sources. An application is in process for a further £3.2m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The council is also in conversation with the Arts Council regarding the possibility of applying to the Department of Culture Media and Sport’s Cultural Development Fund, which will be launched in 2024.
Cllr Ruth Duckworth, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Property, said: “The Theatre Royal is an important historic performance asset, and plays a key role in Margate’s leisure offering. The project to restore and relaunch it is highly ambitious, and it will not be possible without the support of other major funders, an operator with vision and resources, and the support of the community.
“The Theatre Royal has the potential to provide employment and training opportunities for young people in performing arts and creative careers. It is a truly unique heritage stage and I would love to see homegrown talent performing in high quality, locally made productions, as well as visiting national and international theatre productions.”
Following the event, the information boards will remain on display in poster sites on the exterior of the Theatre Royal. It will be possible to submit feedback and thoughts on the potential plans between Thursday 7 and Wednesday 20 December, both online at Your Voice Thanet and via paper surveys. Paper surveys will be available in the reception area of the council offices at Cecil Square in Margate, between Friday 8 and Wednesday 20 December, from 10am to 4pm.
There will be further opportunities to engage as the project progresses.
The engagement activity will also include testing the market for a new operator within the existing performing arts sector, gathering insights to better understand the needs of an operator, and possible operator options for the future of the Theatre Royal. Prospective operators will be invited to register their interest shortly.
There is more information about the Theatre Royal, and wider Margate Town Deal projects on the council’s website.