Liverpool City Council’s mayoral cabinet meeting today agreed to endorse plans for the Royal Court Theatre Welcome Project which will create an exciting new extension to the Grade ll listed, art deco, Royal Court Theatre with a capital contribution of £2 million.
The capital contribution will enable the Royal Court Liverpool Trust to lever further public sector funds, including a confirmed grant of £1.4 million from the European Regional Development Fund. £1.2 million of the contribution will be made available to enable the Trust to begin work on the next phase of work to improve the theatre. The rest of the contribution will become available as additional public funding is secured to complete further phases of work.
Act 2 will begin immediately and will achieve an exciting new foyer extension to the theatre, a brand new box office, improved access by way of a lift to all floors of the building, and first floor terrace. The work will significantly improve the building which is in the heart of the St George’s Quarter area of the city centre.
The Royal Court Trust attracted funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2011 and invested over £1.2 million in the first phase of improvements. This work focussed on the auditorium which is now the only purpose designed, art deco, cabaret-style theatre in the country. The unique presentation of theatre in a more relaxed setting with a pre-show dining attracts tourists and visitors as well as local people, many of whom are not regular theatre-goers.
The Royal Court has been producing popular theatre since 2006. It attracts over 130,000 people each year and receives no public subsidy for its programme which has included work by some of the city’s most famous writers including Willy Russell and Alan Bleasdale. Over 95% of shows are created, produced and rehearsed in Liverpool resulting in a vibrant theatre with a real connection to local communities. The theatre is committed to producing high quality work, developing local talent and creating a unique brand of accessible theatre at affordable prices. Improvements to the building will benefit the thousands of local people that visit the theatre each year and the many community groups that it supports.
Mayor Joe Anderson said ‘Improvements to the outside of the Royal Court Theatre will start the process outlined in our Strategic Investment Framework for the city centre and for the St George’s Quarter area in particular. The theatre is situated in an important gateway to the city centre and the new extension to the theatre will significantly enhance the area for the thousands of tourists and visitors to our great city each year. Known as ‘The People’s Theatre’, the Royal Court is well used and loved by local people who will also benefit from improvements to the theatre for generations to come.’
Sara Wilde-McKeown, Chair of the Royal Court Liverpool Trust said ‘We are delighted that the Council are able to offer the Trust a capital contribution to help us realise our ambitions for this iconic building in the heart of Liverpool’s historic St George’s Quarter. As a result of Council support, we have already been able to lever £1.4 million of public funds by way of a grant from the ERDF and we have several other applications currently in the pipeline with other funding agencies. These grants represent new money into the region which we can invest in our cultural assets to continue to improve our growing visitor economy.’
World renowned architect, Paul Monaghan of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris is leading the renovation work. ‘I am keen to realise my vision for the outside of the Royal Court, a venue I know and love having grown up in Liverpool. Although AHMM is now in charge of some of the biggest architectural projects in the country including the new Google and Scotland Yard HQ’s, the Royal Court remains dear to my heart. I can’t wait to get started.’
The Royal Court Welcome Project will start immediately with completion in June 2015. The theatre will remain open throughout with minimal disruption to the programme and extensive education and participation activities.