Bosses at Pitlochry Festival Theatre have submitted a planning application for a second performance space and an extension to the Theatre’s front of house area.
The £20 million revamp would be paid for with Tay Cities Deal funding and contributions from other charities.
It comes after the theatre made almost half of its 98-strong workforce redundant this summer and against a backdrop of concern for the future of arts and entertainment venues as they attempt to stay afloat in the coronavirus crisis.
The team at Pitlochray say they want to be “a beacon of hope” for the industry.
The second performance space will be created within the existing building to form an accessible 175-seat studio. The aim is to provide a flexible additional space to showcase new writing and touring productions from across Scotland and UK.
Theatre directors say they want to invest in the venue’s future for both existing and new audiences, support and create jobs and engage with a wider range of artists from across the country.
Pitlochry Festival Theatre chairman Colin Liddell said: “Whilst Covid-19 is a major challenge for everyone involved in theatre, it provides an unexpected opportunity for us to accelerate our redevelopment plans so that the Theatre becomes a beacon of hope and provides a symbolic vision of what culture can provide in a post-Covid world.
“This work is funded by Dunard Fund and Gannochy Trust, whose charitable support I am delighted to acknowledge. Their generous funding to us forms part of our theatre’s match-funding of the £10m capital funding committed to the Theatre through the Tay Cities Deal.”
Plans for the new studio space and front of house extension have been designed and prepared by Susie Bridges Architects. The theatre refurbishing specialists have previously worked on London’s Victoria Palace Theatre and Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, as well as Cast in Doncaster.
Kris Bryce, the theatre’s executive director, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve reached this milestone. Our capital project has been developed over a number of years as part of the Tay Cities Deal.
“By investing in this work, at a time when theatres have been forced to close, we’re sending a clear message that we believe in the future of our theatre, of the region, and the jobs which we support.”
Elizabeth Newman, artistic director of Pitlochry Festival Theatre, added: “We are excited to share our plans to grow the theatre.
“At such a critical time for theatres all over the UK, we know it’s important to make positive plans in Pitlochry and to focus our attention on the future and towards a time where we can serve more audiences and artists from across Scotland.”
If approved, it is expected that the new studio space at Pitlochry Festival Theatre will open to the public in May 2021, to help celebrate the 70th anniversary of Scotland’s ‘Theatre in the Hills’ and the start of the Summer 2021 season.