Theatre Royal reaches its �10m fundraising target

Norwich Theatre Royal's major fundraising drive for its �10m refurbishment is finally complete, it was announced at the theatre's AGM yesterday.

The modernization of the theatre building was funded thanks to the support of a huge amount of individuals, businesses and trusts, and at yesterday's meeting Peter Wilson, the theatre's chief executive, said a big thank you to everyone involved.

He said: 'I would like to thank everyone who supported this appeal which has ended on time and on budget as promised, so we are now free to focus on the future.'

Mr Wilson also revealed that since 1992 Norwich Theatre Royal has been responsible for more than �200 million pounds' worth of 'economic churn' in Norfolk - including jobs, supplies, and all manner of benefits to restaurants, taxi firms, hotels, bed and breakfasts and tourist attractions.

David Merrick, chairman of the Theatre Royal Trust, said in the year 2009/10 the theatre generated a trading surplus of �342,000 which, taking depreciation into account, leaves a surplus available to invest back into the theatre of just over �56,000.

He said: 'This is a good result. On the face of it it's the best result the Theatre Royal has ever generated, but it draws attention to the fact that has been emphasised by all my predecessors as chairmen of the Theatre Royal.

'The Theatre Royal has the ability to run on a day-to-day basis. But it does not have, and will never have, the ability to build up reserves to pay solely for the next major refurbishment.

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'That taken into account, I congratulate the staff of the Theatre Royal on a successful year artistically, educationally and financially.'

He said in the last year the theatre has had full houses for every kind of performance - from Waiting for Godot to Northern Ballet's revival of Romeo and Juliet to the five solid sold-out weeks of Les Miserables.

He said a survey of about 12 similar theatres across the UK showed that the average occupancy these theatres performed to was 60pc, whereas the Norwich Theatre Royal's individual average occupancy was 72pc.

He said the Theatre Royal's friends scheme was 'the envy of the country' with a friends membership of 11,215 with subscriptions worth more than �267,000.

Mr Wilson highlighted the theatre's educational work, including its arts courses that have been going since 1972, and its Norfolk Schools Project which gives schoolchildren the chance to study professional productions and create and perform their own versions on the Theatre Royal stage.

He also announced the theatre's plans to develop further its educational role, particular in further and higher education.

He said the theatre was in the early stages of creating a new further education technical theatre course, in conjunction with City College Norwich, to teach skills such as lighting, sound and stage management.

He said further into the future it was hoped the theatre would also be involved in a higher education course for technical theatre.

The theatre is starting a bursary scheme, named after the late Sir James Cleminson, a former chairman of the theatre. This is to give financial help to students from the theatre's arts courses who have been offered a place at an accredited drama school.

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