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£4.65 million capital funding awarded to Bristol Old Vic

  • Date: 11 March 2014
  • Area: South West
Artist's mpression of new development

Artist's impression of new development.

Leading regional theatre Bristol Old Vic has been awarded £4.65million towards a £12million redevelopment project that is scheduled to coincide with the venue's 250th anniversary year.

The Arts Council England National portfolio organisation is the longest continuously-running theatre in the UK and following a recent £12million redevelopment project, is now one of the most modern and comfortable with state of the art rehearsal rooms, a dramatically extended forestage and precision-engineered sightlines giving audiences an even more intimate theatrical experience.

This final stage of development will transform the public spaces and make the theatre a welcoming environment for visitors.  There will be a new entrance foyer, lifts to all floors to improve accessibility, more toilets and refurbished bars.  There will also be a new studio theatre, providing an even stronger platform on which to develop the work of regional artists.

The redevelopment will return Coopers' Hall to its original 18th century use as an events space for the city. The Coopers' Hall was built in 1744 for the Coopers' Company, the guild of coopers in Bristol, but only remained in the hands of the Coopers until 1785, subsequently becoming a public assembly room, a wine warehouse, a Baptist chapel and eventually a fruit and vegetable warehouse.  It was incorporated as the theatre's foyer in the early 1970s and together they are designated a Grade I listed building by English Heritage.

Tom Morris, Artistic Director, Bristol Old Vic, said: 'We are absolutely thrilled that Haworth Tompkins' visionary redesign of our foyer spaces, together with their recovery of the magnificent Coopers' Hall, has been granted planning approval.

'Because of the site's complex architectural history, many feared this would be impossible to achieve.  But these atmospheric and characterful plans have brilliantly unlocked Bristol Old Vic's historical riches and allowed us to reveal Bristol's architectural gem of a theatre after nearly 250 years.

'We have worked closely with the planning officers of Bristol Council, English Heritage, The Twentieth Century Society and the Theatres Trust, and we are very grateful for their support.  We are also grateful to Bristol Council for their rigorous interrogation of these designs, which has helped in a number of further improvements during the planning process, and allowed us to preserve even more of the ancient fabric of the site than we had thought possible.'

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: 'We're delighted to support the refurbishment of Bristol Old Vic through this award from our National Lottery-funded Capital programme.  This will be a transformative project for a venue which has both an illustrious history and an increasingly important standing today for its high quality artistic and developmental work under the leadership of Tom Morris.  Bristol Old Vic is a flagship cultural destination and we look forward to seeing the venue flourish with the help of our investment.' 


For more information about Bristol Old Vic's redevelopment project see or contact Amanda Adams (Press Manager) on 0117-949 4901 or