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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Council agrees to rescue theatre
Dumfries Theatre Royal (Picture courtesy of Theatre Royal)
The theatre is Scotland's oldest working playhouse
A 2.5m donation which could safeguard the future of Scotland's oldest working theatre has been approved by Dumfries and Galloway Council.

A 5.5m project to rebuild the 212-year-old Theatre Royal in Dumfries was under threat if the local authority failed to come up with the cash.

The theatre's owners said they were "absolutely delighted" with the news.

Robert Burns was a patron and Peter Pan author JM Barrie was inspired at the theatre to write plays.

Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin were among the visitors to the auditorium.

The historic building is no longer fit for modern needs and the ambitious proposals centre on a full time, professionally run theatre with a 300-seat main auditorium and 100-seat studio.

If we hadn't got the money today, I think it would have killed the project
Carol Godchild
Guild of Players
The site, in Shakespeare Street, was built in 1792 and was saved from demolition in 1959 when it was bought by the Guild of Players.

A trust formed four years ago has spent 125,000 coming up with a plan for the future.

Carol Godchild, a spokesperson for the trust and the Guild of Players, said the donation had saved the theatre.

"We are absolutely delighted that the council has seen the merit of coming into partnership with us," she said.

"We can now move to make a big case for the remaining funding and hopefully begin work at the beginning of spring.

"If we hadn't got the money today, I think it would have killed the project.

Scottish Opera

"We needed the council to bring in money and we are delighted it has seen how it will help the area."

The players were looking forward to getting back on stage and performing in plays and pantomimes, she added.

The council earlier gave 20,000 towards a feasibility study into the renovation plans.

The company is paid for entirely by membership subscriptions and box office receipts.

The theatre does not at the moment receive any grant aid towards running costs.

It is the venue for the Guild of Players' own productions and for performances from visiting companies, including Scottish Opera.

The building is also used extensively as a venue for Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival, Dumfries Music Festival and the Dumfries Operatic Society.

Schools threatened by council plan
18 Jun 01  |  Scotland

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