£1.2m expansion plan for West Acre Theatre

Joint artistic directors Isobel Smith and Andy Naylor (left) discus the plans with architects James Burton and Gareth Edwards MLNF14PB11600 ANL-141119-172204001

Joint artistic directors Isobel Smith and Andy Naylor (left) discus the plans with architects James Burton and Gareth Edwards MLNF14PB11600 ANL-141119-172204001

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Ambitious expansion plans costing £1.2 millon have been unveiled for Westacre Theatre this week.

The arts foundation running the theatre in River Road, West Acre, revealed the plans on Monday.

West Acre terrace image ANL-141119-172420001

West Acre terrace image ANL-141119-172420001

Directors James Burton and Gareth Edwards, of Swann Edwards Architecture, outlined the plans at separate presentations in the studio theatre to parish councillors, theatre supporters and local residents.

The scheme envisages a 150-seater theatre-in-the-round complete with foyer, bar, front of house services, dressing rooms, scene workshop and overnight accommodation for touring companies.

“This is a really exciting project. We are delighted with the scheme that Swann Edwards have put together, developing on the original 
visionary work of Tony Wright, the architect of phase 1 who has now retired,” said joint artistic director, Isobel Smith.

The theatre has been presenting productions in the village for 25 years, initially on an open-air summer site in the ruins of West Acre Abbey and more recently in a converted Methodist Chapel where the charity now runs events including a full-year-round programme of plays, films, drama workshops for young people and creative arts classes.

Phase 1 of the scheme cost £600,000 which was raised through grants from West Norfolk Council, Norfolk County Council, Breckland District Council, the Shears Charitable Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Paul Getty Junior Charitable Trust, the East England Development Programme and private donations.

The scheme will be submitted for planning approval early in the new year and it is hoped that building work will start by the autumn of 2016.

“The new theatre space will enable us to continued our mission to provide first class theatre and arts provision in a rural community. It will mean hard work fund-raising for the next two years,” said Mrs Smith.