Bristol Old Vic will go ahead will plans to make the theatre a “major heritage destination” after receiving £2.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The money will help fund restoration and preservation of the 250-year-old theatre building, as well as new exhibitions of artefacts from throughout its history.
It is hoped that using the building as a heritage space will free up more money to fund theatre productions.
Plans include a full refurbishment of the theatre’s Coopers’ Hall, as well as conservation work to reveal the theatre’s original 18th-century facade for the first time.
The theatre will also gather together all its known artefacts and documents in an extensive archiving programme, which will be digitised and made available online.
New tours and activities are being planned for the building, while funding will also go towards conserving its original 18th-century ‘thunder run’ sound effect apparatus, and making it available to the public.
Chief executive Emma Stenning said: “We hope that in protecting and sharing the architecture and archives of the theatre in new and exciting ways, we are in fact creating a celebration of the people of this city, who have cared for it, without fail, for so many years.”
Nerys Watts, head of HLF South West, said the grant was “fantastic news” for both Bristol “and our nation’s theatrical heritage”.
“Today’s investment will secure the future of fascinating archives, open up historic and characterful spaces and reveal its incredible story as the world’s oldest theatre,” she added.
Bristol Old Vic major heritage drive comes as it continues to celebrate the 250th anniversary of its opening.