Green light for £500,000 Sheffield theatre overhaul grant

Interior of Lyceum Theatre
Interior of Lyceum Theatre
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Sheffield Council has given the final go-ahead to a £500,000 grant towards a revamp of the city’s Lyceum Theatre.

The council has given formal approval to handing over the sum to Sheffield Theatres, which wants to install new equipment and seating to help boost audience numbers.

Sheffield Theatres chief executive Dan Bates showing what needs doing in �2m revamp of  Lyceum Theatre

Sheffield Theatres chief executive Dan Bates showing what needs doing in �2m revamp of Lyceum Theatre

Earlier this year theatre bosses secured £1 million in funding from the Arts Council – and are now leading efforts to raise £433,000 to meet the refurbishment’s total cost.

Work – expected to begin this summer – will include providing air conditioning in the main 1,100-capacity auditorium, adding more ladies’ toilets, fitting new balcony seating and moving the cloakroom to the ground floor.

Technical equipment – some of which is over 20 years old – will be updated, including a new sound system, while LED lights and rooftop solar panels will help make the Lyceum more eco-friendly.

In his proposal for the project, Sheffield Theatres’ chief executive Dan Bates said: “The ambition is to ensure Sheffield is regarded as the touring venue of choice outside of London. The Lyceum contributes, on average, £630,000 per annum towards the activities and development of Sheffield Theatres. The ambition is to grow this over the next three years to £730,000.”

Dance and children’s productions typically fill 40 per cent of the theatre’s capacity while musicals and popular drama tend to reach 75 per cent, Mr Bates added.

“Sheffield Theatres draws audiences from a wide catchment who demonstrate a clear desire for high-quality work of this kind.

“There is potential for the Lyceum to attract greater numbers for the right product, and for repeat audience visits.”

Recommending the grant for approval, director of culture and environment Paul Billington said: “Failure to continue to invest in the theatre would lead to a gradual deterioration in the customer experience, resulting ultimately in falling audiences and require additional support which the council might not be able to provide.”

Coun Isobel Bowler, the council’s cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said the grant was a ‘sound investment’.

n Visit Support for Lyceum Theatre to donate.