Theatre team overwhelmed with support as work to transform building gets under way

Just over a year after launching a campaign to repair their leaking roof, the team at Pakefield’s Seagull Theatre are over the moon with the generous support they have received and are already starting work to rejuvenate the venue.

The Raise the Roof campaign was launched in August last year to raise £40,000 to repair collapsing parts of the ceiling and replace the boarded-up windows. And at the end of this summer, with £27,000 in the fundraising pot and support from local companies to carry out the work at a reduced cost, the repairs could get under way.

Karen Read, venue manager, said: “We had enough money in the pot to get the roof done, so it has now been fixed and is leak free, and all of the front windows have been done too. We are also having a new glass door made for the front so we can create more of a welcoming entrance.

“The whole front facade of the building is going to be transformed which is the most important thing because that’s what people see when they arrive.”

The campaign was launched amid fears another harsh winter with heavy rainfall could force some of the studios to be closed and activities at the theatre to stop.

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Mrs Read said: “To get to this stage is almost a bit unbelievable. For so many years we have been unsuccessful with funding bids and we never understood why because we have so many lovely things going on here. So we decided to start fundraising and we can’t believe how much generosity and support we have had.

“It is an amazing feeling knowing we are going to get to the end of this year having transformed the building externally, and now the work continues to do the internal work too.”

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Work needed inside the theatre includes re-plastering the studios where water leaked through the roof, installing a zoned heating system and a lift to improve accessibility.

Mrs Read said fundraising for the interior will start in 2018, and they will also be applying for grants and sponsorship.

She said: “We don’t want to exhaust people’s generosity so that’s why we decided to fundraise for just a year so we could show people we are going to spend the money they have raised.”

The theatre recently received some Lottery funding to help put together a business plan, which will help with future applications.

Thank you event

Supporters of the theatre’s Raise the Roof project will be invited to a special thank you event in December.

Invitations will go out to attend the first performance of this year’s community production, Ebenezer, at the Seagull on December 14.

Rehearsals for the show, which runs until Christmas Eve, are already under way, with the set also in the process of being built.

The theatre will close for Christmas after the final matinee show on December 24, and will reopen on January 20.

During the closure, volunteers will use any additional money raised to repaint the foyer and clean up the theatre.

The venue will also once again be hosting a New Year’s Eve party on December 31 to thank all its volunteers, as well as welcoming residents who would otherwise be alone.

Full details of all the Christmas events being staged, which includes an early years pantomime for young children, are available online at or call the box office on 01502 589726.

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