Proposed Redevelopment of Theatre

Welcome

Welcome to a special issue of Little Voice which has been published to outline the plans and estimated costs and bring you up to date with how we propose to take the project forward.

If you have any questions about the plans etc. please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing redevelopment@brightonlittletheatre.com.

Introduction

As many of you may be aware, over the last several months, the Committee has been considering options for the renovation of the theatre building. The main objective we set ourselves was to make best use of available space and to provide improved facilities for yourselves and our audiences.

We have employed a local firm of architects, Deacon and Richardson, with whom we have worked through a range of scenarios, discussing and refining them at each stage. We now have a set of plans which, we believe, offer an excellent long-term development opportunity for the theatre.

The Plans

A copy of the draft plans are available by clicking here.

Ground Floor:

1. From the front entrance in Clarence Gardens, entry to bar will be moved to the right at the bottom of the existing stairs into the bar, where it is planned to relocate the Box Office.

2. The existing toilet facilities will be upgraded and expanded by extending them through into what is currently part of the garage. The sloping roof, above the existing toilets, will be replaced by a first floor extension for a new lighting and sound box (Production Box see 8).

3. The space which is currently the wardrobe area will be released (see 5 below). Its floor will be raised to be level with the floor of the bar and bi-folding doors will be installed between the current wardrobe area and the bar.

4. At the back of the area behind the bi-folding doors will be the props storage area.

Two Storey Extension:

5. We are proposing, subject to planning permission being granted, a two storey extension to be built in the alley way at the rear of the theatre in front of the existing garage.

5.1. The ground floor area of this extension will become one area flowing into what is currently the front section of the garage. It is planned to use this area for wardrobe, thereby releasing the space currently used as a costume store (see 3).

5.2. The first floor of the extension will be a dressing room (much larger than the existing first floor dressing room with shower facilities).

6. Down the remainder of the alleyway the fire escape will be re-worked so that it exits down the alley towards the archway entrance. Retaining parking space below, the upper area run will consist of an enclosed walkway providing access from the new first floor dressing room to the stage.

First Floor:

7. There will be a return at the top of the existing stairs leading to the first floor which will mean the audience will enter to the rear of the auditorium.

8. The Production Box will be relocated and, by extending out across the sloped external roof area above the existing toilets, the box will be more spacious (see 2).

9. The beams will be removed from the auditorium to remove height restrictions and facilitate improved stage lighting.

10. The auditorium will be larger by removing the existing ‘dog leg’. Customer seating will increase marginally to 74 seats with more leg room than is provided by the existing seating arrangement.

11. There will be space behind the stage for flat storage.

The Costs

Our architect, Chris Richardson, has given us a broad estimate of £250k as the total cost for the whole project. It is important to stress that this broad estimate has yet to be confirmed which is part of the next stage of the process.

This is a considerable sum of money and, clearly, it would be financially impossible for the project to be undertaken in one sweep. Therefore, it is anticipated, that we will break down the work into separately costed discreet phases which will be undertaken as our finances permit. We will be relying not only on our regular theatre income but seeking additional financial support through fund raising.

Benefits

We believe the proposed redevelopment plans offer several benefits to the theatre, its users and our audiences.  These include:

  • Modernised and more spacious toilet facilities;
  • Improved dressing room facilities with better access to the stage;
  • More flexible use of the ground floor space. The bi-folding doors can be opened to facilitate bigger bar productions and for social occasions as well as providing a more open space for customers when we are ‘sold out’. When the bi-folding doors are closed the area behind the doors may be used variously as a dressing room or a meeting/rehearsal room;
  • More room for lighting and sound in the operating box;
  • Upstairs flat storage;
  • Improved seating facilities in the auditorium.

Next Steps

The next key stages are:

  1. Compilation of detailed plans and specifications;
  2. Quantity Surveyor to review and preparation of full cost plan*;
  3. Preparation of material for presentation to the membership;
  4. Applying for planning permission for external work, (see 5 and 6 above). 

The above stages (1-4) will cost £11.6k. We have the funds and it is vital that we have final costings so we can plan fundraising, appropriately schedule the various phases of the project, and ensure that we present clear and reliable information when we apply for planning for the exterior developments.

Display

It is planned to offer members an opportunity to view the proposed renovation scheme through presentation material which will be displayed at the theatre. We will hold a members evening when we can meet informally to discuss the proposed changes which will give everyone an opportunity to let us have their thoughts.

Extraordinary General Meeting

Once planning permission is obtained, and as required by the Company’s Articles of Association, we will invite members to an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM). This will be our opportunity to formally present the detailed project plans and your opportunity to vote in respect of the plans going forward. No stages of the work, beyond seeking planning permission, will commence without formal membership approval.

Conclusion

The committee believe the plans which we now have offer us a unique opportunity to bring about the valuable improvements to the theatre’s environment.

Assuming the project is ratified at the EGM, the pace at which the project progresses will largely rely on availability of funds. Importantly too, the work will need to be scheduled to minimise disruption to productions and our other day to day activities.

The Committee has worked very closely with the architects and we have had an opportunity to fully input to the plans using our knowledge of the theatre, its activities, members and audiences.

We are aware that the plans are long term and that the phasing of the work may well be over many years. However, we fully believe that the proposal presents a very exciting opportunity for Brighton Little Theatre going forward.