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Historic theatre set to get £120,000 lottery cash
4:36pm Friday 19th October 2012 in News
MORE than £120,000 in lottery funding looks likely to be awarded to one of the UK’s oldest complete theatres to develop a new learning centre.
The 18th century auditorium of the Georgian Theatre Royal, in Richmond, is one of the oldest theatres in the country still in its original form.
It has just heard that its application for £120,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has been endorsed by the organisation to develop a centre that will enable people of all ages to increase their knowledge of theatre in the Georgian period.
Having received initial support from the HLF, the theatre now has up to two years to submit a fullydeveloped proposal to compete for a firm award.
The money will be added to £200,000 bequeathed by Paul Iles, who died of cancer in May last year at the age of 59, after more than ten years as associate director of the historic theatre.
Mr Iles was a major figure in the theatre world nationally and during his lifetime built up a collection of theatrical reference material and memorabilia.
The collection is one of the most sizeable of its kind in existence and includes material related to actor and manager of the theatre, Samuel Butler, who founded the theatre in 1788.
Mr Iles left all of his collection to the Richmond theatre along with his £200,000 gift towards the development of the theatre’s educational and heritage roles.
The theatre also has Britain’s oldest set of scenery, known as the woodland scene, which was probably painted between 1818 and 1836.
The money will be used to create a space behind the stage that can be used for exhibitions and receptions, and there will be a new Samuel Butler Room above the existing studio, which will tell his story.
Also included in the new centre will be the development of the youth theatre and outreach work with young people and the provision of a new archive store.
The historic Friar’s Wynd, an ancient thoroughfare that leads from the theatre to Richmond’s large cobbled Market Place, will also be improved.
Malcolm Bryant, chairman of the Georgian Theatre Royal Trust said: “This project has the support of our town, district and county councils and has the potential to transform the Georgian Theatre Royal as a major heritage and educational resource.
“It will also make a significant contribution to the wonderful historic town of Richmond.”