Ken Dodd’s charitable foundation has announced a £250,000 donation to the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Merseyside, of which he was a patron.
Announced by the late entertainer’s wife, Anne Dodd, the grant will go towards the creation of a performance garden, described as a small-scale amphitheatre, at Shakespeare North.
Dodd, a Liverpool native, was named patron of the project in 2017, a year before he died.
It comes as construction gets underway on the new theatre, which is expected to cost about £30 million and 90% of which is now understood to have been secured.
Decades-old plans to create a Shakespearean theatre in Prescot were revived in 2015, and the project will see a 350-seat theatre, modelled on 17th-century designs, built near the site of an Elizabethan playhouse where Shakespeare is said to have presented work. It will also include an exhibition, visitor centre and education facilities.
The donation from the Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation Trust was confirmed at a launch event for the playhouse, at which it was revealed that the building would open in 2022.
It is hoped that when finished, the theatre in Prescot will create a ‘Shakespearean triangle’ with London and Stratford-upon-Avon.
Ian Tabbron, interim chief executive of Shakespeare North, said of the launch: “This is a landmark event for everyone involved in the Shakespeare North Playhouse development. It marks the start of a distinctive phase of delivery for a project that has been a dream for many people for many years.”
Earlier this year, an extra £4 million was granted by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority for the project following a rise in construction costs, taking the authority’s contribution to more than £10 million.