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Last Updated: Friday, 25 January 2008, 15:23 GMT
Theatre revamp gets royal support
Artist's impression of the new Marlowe Theatre
The Marlowe Theatre will have two performance spaces
Prince Edward has become royal patron of a theatre currently undergoing a multi-million pound revamp in Kent.

The Earl of Wessex will be involved in the 24m Marlowe Theatre project in Canterbury until December 2010 when the venue is due to open, the council said.

Spokesman for the theatre campaign Peter Williams said it followed a meeting at Buckingham Palace last year.

He said Prince Edward had hands-on experience of theatre and the arts and would be fully involved in the project.

His patronage is a huge fillip
Sir Graeme Odgers

"The meeting lasted for about an hour and Prince Edward asked a lot of questions about the theatre, the redevelopment plans and the campaign," said Mr Williams, vice chairman of the campaign board.

"It is fantastic news that he has agreed to be Royal Patron and we will meet him regularly to discuss the campaign and its progress and to get his advice.

"He is not just going to be a name on a letterhead - he is going to be fully involved in everything we seek to do."

Marlowe Theatre
The project will cost about 24m

And the chairman of the campaign board, Sir Graeme Odgers, added: "Prince Edward feels very strongly about theatre and the use of culture as a regeneration tool, and this is one of the key aims of the new Marlowe Theatre.

"His patronage is a huge fillip to the campaign and I am delighted he has found the time in his extremely busy schedule to take on this role."

Council leader John Gilbey said the patronage was "a stunning coup".

The campaign is aiming to raise 6m of private donations towards the project.

Plans include a new three-tier auditorium, with 1,200 seats offering a better view. Visitors will also benefit from better acoustics and bigger shows.

There will also be a second, smaller performance space enabling education and training in the arts.

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