Belfast’s Grand Opera House launches £11m restoration plan
The Grand Opera House in Belfast has launched an £11 million plan to restore the Frank Matcham-designed venue in time for its 125th anniversary in 2020.
The city-centre theatre has received a grant of £242,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop proposals for the restoration of the main auditorium and a permanent visitor exhibition showcasing the history of Northern Ireland’s oldest theatre.
If approved, further funding of £4.5 million will be made available by the HLF, leaving the theatre to raise the £6.5 million needed to return the theatre’s ornately decorated interior to its original condition.
Chief executive Ian Wilson said: “The restoration of the auditorium and supporting public spaces represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to return the auditorium to its former grandeur and acknowledges the Grand Opera House’s vibrant contribution to Northern Ireland’s cultural life, and to the economy of Belfast.”
He added: “There are very few theatres in the UK and Ireland that can match the opulence of the Grand Opera House’s auditorium. Designed by Frank Matcham, the most prolific theatre architect of the Victorian era, the theatre has been entertaining generations of theatregoers for 123 years.”
The restoration will be the first significant work inside the theatre since it was saved from demolition in 1980 and follows a major refurbishment of the 122-year-old building’s exterior in 2017.