The restoration of the derelict Burnley Empire Theatre has kick-started with a £44,000 grant from the National Lottery.
A company called Burnley Empire Ltd, formed by campaigners for the theatre’s restoration, purchased the building for £1 in December last year.
Now the company is able to begin a long-term restoration project of the grade II-listed theatre after being awarded the grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The money will be used to develop a better understanding of the building’s condition, look at viable future uses for the theatre, establish a charitable organisation to support the refurbishment and provide trustee training for those managing the project.
Burnley Empire Limited has described the works as “essential steps” towards bringing the building back into public use.
Sophie Gibson, director of Burnley Empire Ltd, said: “This is fantastic news for the building and the town.
“This support, thanks to National Lottery players, will kick-start the project towards restoration and help us on the journey to bring the Empire into 21st-century use. As always, it’s not going to happen overnight, and a lot of hard work has to go on behind the scenes before progress is visible.”
She added: “Being awarded this grant shows we are making progress and the heritage and future use of the Burnley Empire is something to be valued and worth fighting for.”
Claire Appleby, architecture adviser at Theatres Trust, said: “We are delighted that the group has secured this funding. Burnley Empire Ltd has done a great job so far but this additional support will lay the foundations to move the project forward successfully.”
Campaigners say that the 1,200-seat Empire is the last surviving Edwardian theatre in east Lancashire. Ranked 14th on the Theatres Trust Theatres at Risk register, the venue has been disused for 20 years.