The 1970s modernist-style theatre will be remodelled
Two arts projects in the North East of England have been awarded £7.5m in lottery cash by Arts Council England.
A theatre in Newcastle will be transformed into a new European centre for performing arts with the help of a £3m grant, and a project to build a new art gallery in Middlesbrough will receive £4.5m.
The money for the Newcastle Playhouse and Gulbenkian studio will help towards its transformation into a European centre for the performing arts and home for Northern Stage.
The 1970s modernist-style architecture will be remodelled, part of Newcastle University's blueprint for a cultural quarter.
A new performance space will be built at the heart of the building, and there will also be a new foyer on the south side, and a new block on the north side for Northern Stage staff.
The theatre ensemble has been the resident company at the Playhouse for the last 10 years.
It will move out of the building in May 2004, but will continue to tour until the development is finished in autumn 2005.
Alan Lyddiard, artistic director and chief executive of Northern Stage said: "It will be a place from which the ensemble can set off and tour Europe and beyond."
In Middlesbrough, a state-of-the-art venue will be built to bring together the collections of the current art gallery in Linthorpe Road and the Cleveland Crafts Centre.
The £14.2m development will be constructed in the centre of the town, between the library and Claes Oldenburg's Bottle of Notes.
It will have a main gallery, two open gallery areas, a 60-seater auditorium for lectures, workshops and film shows, a cafe-bar and roof terrace.
The building, which includes a glass frontage looking out over a new public square, has been designed by architect Erick van Egeraat.
Work is due to start in January 2004, with the gallery expected to open in early 2006.
Middlesbrough councillor Dave Budd, said: "This is excellent news for Middlesbrough.
"The art gallery will provide an exciting new venue for the people of Middlesbrough and the wider region."
Neil Rami, chief executive of the Newcastle-Gateshead Initiative which was set up to promote the area, said: "This announcement is a great boost for culture in the North East."