Glasgow & West Scotland

Lottery funding earmarked for Citizens Theatre redevelopment

A major redevelopment of one of Scotland's oldest theatres is a step closer after being promised nearly £5m of lottery funding.

The plans for Glasgow's Citizens Theatre include upgrading the Victorian auditorium, installing a new foyer and transforming the exterior.

The "Citz" opened in 1878 as a variety theatre in Glasgow's Gorbals area.

Over the years it has helped launch the careers of actors such as Stanley Baxter, Bill Paterson and Gary Oldman.

Rupert Everett, Helen Baxendale, Alan Rickman and David Hayman are also among the stars who have trodden the boards of the theatre which has been home to the Citizens Theatre Company since 1945.

Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: "The Citizens Theatre is held in great affection in Glasgow and far beyond although I don't think anyone would disagree that it has seen better days.

"We are delighted to give our initial support to a project which will bring those better days back.

"We have a shared vision of the Citz becoming a place where friends can gather for a coffee, enjoy outstanding performances, learn about the performing arts, and discover the wonderful working heritage behind its scenes."

Victorian machinery

The auditorium still has working Victorian theatre machinery, including a unique paint frame that continues to be used to paint backcloths.

The remnants of an old bowling alley and a shooting range are closed up beneath the theatre.

Architects Bennetts Associates have promised to respect its heritage during the redevelopment, due to begin in autumn 2016.

The plans include:

  • Improvements to the auditorium and other historic parts of the building
  • Demolishing some 20th Century additions which are no longer fit for purpose
  • Creating a new foyer, learning and rehearsal studios, administration hub and catering facilities
  • Improving disabled access with lifts to all levels
  • Viewing windows highlighting the buildings's historic machinery
  • Improvements to the building exterior with statues of Shakespeare, Burns and the four Muses, originally from the roof of the old building, to adorn the new facade.

Citizens Theatre artistic director Dominic Hill said: "Our vision for this project is to create a building which honours and celebrates the remarkable history of this theatre, while remaining a vibrant and vital landmark in our community.

"The Citizens' work on stage has long been celebrated for being bold, innovative and accessible to people from all walks of life, and I'm looking forward to working in a building that reflects that philosophy."

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has earmarked £4.9m for the project including a grant of £500,000 to develop the next stage of the application process.

Adrienne Scullion, Citizens Theatre chairwoman, said: "This is an important capital project for both the company and the city and with the announcement of HLF's funding we are a major step closer to realising our plans.

"The Citizens has always valued its place in the heart of the Gorbals and now, with the Laurieston regeneration project underway, it's the right time for us to invest in a more efficient, more sustainable building for future generations to enjoy."

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