1979 saw Buxton Opera House restored to its former glory thanks to the hard work and dedication of many people. Forty years on we have our eyes firmly set on preserving the history of the building whilst securing the future of the theatre for generations to come.
We are therefore pleased to announce that we have been awarded a grant from Arts Council England and the High Peak Borough Council to conduct a study of how we can protect and enhance the Opera House.
The feasibility study will focus on improving the backstage facilities to attract a high calibre of production to the Opera House stage. While we need to preserve the past, it is important to safeguard the future of Buxton Opera House as a working theatre. Areas being considered for improvement are the hemp rope flying system that lifts scenery in and out of the stage; the raked stage which is uneven in places; providing much needed additional toilet facilities for customers and improving access across the theatre as a whole.
All changes will be sympathetic to the Grade II listed building and the original vision of renowned theatre architect, Frank Matcham, but will bring a whole new era of performances to the Opera House. Chief Executive Paul Kerryson, has long seen the facilities as a barrier to having major touring dance and theatre productions coming to Buxton.
“Improving our facilities will have a huge benefit to our audiences. From providing a smooth raked stage which large touring companies prefer, to making the theatre truly accessible for all, these changes would provide Buxton with one of the best theatre experiences around. As winners of the Most Welcoming Theatre Awards in East Midlands over the past few years, we see it as our responsibility to provide our community with the best productions and facilities that we can offer”.
Chair of the High Peak Theatre Trust board, Professor Judy Simons also believes that this study will unlock benefits for Buxton Opera House audiences.
“This provides Buxton with an opportunity to upgrade one of its most iconic buildings. The Opera House urgently needs modern facilities that meet present-day standards and can match its stunning auditorium. The study is a key step towards realising these plans.”
Bennetts Associates have kindly agreed to carry out the study. Their architectural experience in refurbishing theatres such as Shaftsbury Theatre in London, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Kings Theatre in Edinburgh has been both inspirational and award-winning. They combine a sensitivity and understanding of historic theatres alongside imagination to help buildings reach their full potential.
The feasibility study is due to take seven weeks and will propose a number of options for consideration before any decisions are made. The public will be able to view the proposals on our website from June onwards and the plans will also be on display at Buxton Opera House. Public opinions on the plans are welcomed and you will be able to share your suggestions at: [email protected]
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bennetts Associates is one of the UK’s leading architectural practices, with a reputation for design quality, sustainability and a collaborative style of work. The practice has completed a diverse portfolio of cultural, workplace and education projects in both the public and private sector, ranging from masterplans to small historic buildings that have been celebrated with more than 150 awards over 30 years. bennettsassociates.com / Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn: @BennettsAssocs
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