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Ayr Gaiety Theatre secures extra £590k towards £2.4m refurb

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Ayr’s Gaiety Theatre has taken a step toward a major refurbishment, due to start in February 2016, with a £500,000 loan from the Social Growth Fund.

The soft loan, repayable over 10 years, was announced together with a grant of £90,000 from the Scottish Government’s People and Communities Fund. The new contributions leave the Ayr Gaiety Partnership, which runs the theatre, with less than £300,000 to raise towards its £2.4m fundraising goal.

AGP took over the Gaiety in 2009 after it went dark owing to health and safety issues, and reopened it in 2012, together with an additional studio space. Since then the main house balcony has been restored and the auditorium is back up to 560 capacity.

The People and Communities Fund is intended to help communities tackle poverty and inequalities in their area, with the Social Growth Fund targeting organisations that create innovative ways to tackle inequalities.

Jeremy Wyatt, executive director of AGP, told The Stage that since opening in 2009, the partnership’s aspirations have moved beyond the fabric of the building to help and support local organisations and individuals.

Wyatt said: “These are aspirations which are not just bounded by the building. But we have to have a sustainable business before we can do these, and the Gaiety is always going to be the hub of our activity.”

The refurbishment will improve the stage and stage equipment, upgrade the 100-year-old heating system and provide ventilation. Access into the foyer will be improved. There will be new seating for the stalls with refurbishment of the seating elsewhere.

It will also pick up minor repairs to the ceiling, which Wyatt said “is in good repair but does use the same construction as the Apollo”.

There was a partial collapse of the ceiling at London’s Apollo in December 2013.

Seven seriously injured as ceiling collapses at West End’s Apollo Theatre

The refurbishment is expected to take six months. While the main house is dark, AGP will still be programming the studio and a network of four other venues in Ayr which it has recently started programming for the local council.

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