£12m Revamp Plans for Bristol Old Vic

Monday, 11th November 2013

The Bristol Old Vic Theatre plans to undergo more major refurbishment with a further £12m spent on modernising it. Refurbishment plans for the 250 years old theatre foyer, studio theatre, 18th Century Coopers' Hall and entrance cafe and bars, have been submitted. The plan is to completely reshape and rebuild the layout of the theatre and build a new, glass-fronted atrium which will not only unmask the historic building but create a new and welcoming venue on King Street.


For the first time in the Georgian theatre's history, the front wall, dating from the 1760s, will be exposed to the public foyer and be visible from the street. The open foyer will have a cafe atmosphere and be fully accessible to wheelchairs as well as having more toilet facilities and more accessible and longer bars. The studio theatre will be made fully accessible and Coopers' Hall will be returned to its original purpose as a function hall for the city.


Tom Morris, Artistic Director for the theatre said: "We want to create a new public space for everyone in Bristol - whether or not you're seeing a show. You'll be able to relax with a book, meet for a business lunch, or bring the kids. There will be tables and sofas over three floors of nooks and open spaces - we hope everyone can find their own space here."


Architects Haworth Tompkins specialise in the refurbishment of theatres. The firm has worked on the Royal Court, the Young Vic and the Egg in Bath. Steve Tompkins, the man behind the designs, said: "The new foyer will be a convivial, urbane room in its own right. It has to be a social asset. It is not only supporting the work in the auditorium but it also has a responsibility to the street and city."


A multi-million pound fund-raising campaign will be launched in the new year, with the money raised added to £5m of funding already earmarked from the Arts Council. If all goes to plan, building work will start early in 2015 and will take around 12 months to complete, meaning the new building will open just in time for the theatre's 250th birthday celebrations.