Greenwich Theatre is set to receive a makeover after plans were unveiled for a “bold new era” over the next 25 years – including a new studio theatre.

The 19th century building will receive repairs to the roof, rewiring and front of house improvements after an investment by the Royal Borough of Greenwich .

The building has been closed for 12 weeks as the work is carried out.

Artistic and executive director James Haddrell said the investment represented a major commitment to culture at a time when arts funding is dwindling around the country.

He said: “We are announcing an autumn programme that embeds the reputation we have gained over the last five years as one of the country’s leading supporters of emerging theatre companies.

“Support for the next generation of theatre makers in this country will go from being an important part of the company’s work, as it has been for five years, to becoming part of our DNA.

“The investment represents a seed fund for a larger package of repairs. On top of that we are in discussions over a long lease on the building so we can look securely towards the future.”

As well as offering a new income stream as a rehearsal room for hire, the new studio will offer an opportunity to emerging companies.

James Haddrell and Simon Francis outside Greenwich Theatre

James said: “The theatre has been pivotal in offering them a stepping stone between the fringe and mid-scale touring.

“But some companies come to us having played in 40 to 50 seaters and the jump to 400 is still intimidating and tough for them.

“They will be able to come to us and still work in a small-scale environment but with the infrastructure, experience and knowledge we can offer them to enhance the quality of their work.

“The package of work the whole building needs to bring it up to standard, top to bottom, is £2million – but we think it can be delivered over a period as much as 20 years.

“The work we’re doing now is the essential work, and we’re looking to match the local authority’s investment for phase two of the improvements, which will see further electrical work around the building and more improvements to the bar and studio.”

Council leader Denise Hyland said: “The borough is pleased to be working with Greenwich Theatre to help them carry out these improvements which will help ensure its viability into the future.

“We are committed to supporting Greenwich Theatre’s work and are proud that our contribution helps the theatre to put on performance and participatory activities from the Greenwich Children’s Theatre Festival to the popular annual pantomime.”

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