The Northcott Theatre in Exeter has applied to the city council for planning permission to undertake a £3.1 million expansion of the venue, which would see the venue’s capacity increased by nearly a quarter.
If the application is successful, work will start at the beginning of next year and will be completed by the end of September. The plans would see the theatre’s capacity increased from 433 to 538, with all seating in the auditorium completely replaced and an extra ten wheelchair positions created. A new entrance will also be added, as well as an improved dining area and rooms for education work and corporate entertaining.
Lisa Roff, the theatre’s development director, explained: “It’s all very much in the initial stages. The plans will increase the number of seats, giving more people the opportunity to come and see live theatre and we will create a more welcoming front of house.”
Members of the theatre’s management are currently in consultation with its stockholders to secure a £1.5 million contribution to the cost of the improvements, while the balance of £1.6 million will be raised from public fundraising.
The Northcott currently operates at 80% capacity, with around 50 performances a year selling out. Executive director Shea Connolly believes that the extra seating could generate at least an extra £100,000 a year.
He added: “We know there’s an extra demand. Hopefully the extra income would help to fund a second stage of redevelopment of the theatre, which would be to bring a rehearsal room on site at the venue.”