Plans to build a 150-seat additional performing space at Westacre Theatre will be kick-started next month by the official opening of the extension of the foyer, bar and kitchens.
Acclaimed sculptor and patron of the theatre, Antony Gormley, will officially unveil the new extension on September 1 to celebrate the completion of the first stage of a three-year plan.
The work includes the addition of a large creative arts space, an extension of the gallery, cafe and bar, and an external terrace.
A spokesman for the theatre said: “This work means not only are we able to welcome more audiences and participants than ever before, but we are also able to widen our scope for catering on-site, which might mean things like pre-theatre suppers or a cafe with longer opening hours during the daytime.
“After much tireless fundraising, grant and planning applications, work has now also begun on the building of our second space.”
The second phase of development will be to complement the existing 80-seat studio theatre with a second, all year round second performing space that can seat 150 people and is to be built from environmentally-sustainable materials.
Clive Hadfield, chairman of Westacre Arts Foundation, explained that the relation to the environment was an important part of the project.
He said: “It will be set in landscaped meadowland with a nature lagoon, seating, picnic places and joined to woodland walks along the River Nar and Nar Valley Way.
“These new facilities will enable the theatre to offer a greater number and range of performances and youth workshops, which will attract new audiences and open up fresh opportunities for training in both the creative and performing arts.
“These include acting, set design and construction, costume design and production, stage make-up, music, dance, painting, drawing and crafts, lighting and front-of-house skills, all in an area of rural deprivation where such opportunities are scarce.”
The foundation is now seeking funding of up to £1million to complete the second phase of the project by 2015.