The planned Shakespeare North Playhouse will receive a further £4 million of local government funding to support an increase in expected construction costs.
The theatre is being built in Prescot near the site of a 16th-century playhouse where Shakespeare is said to have presented work. It has been touted by those behind it as a major home for Shakespeare in the North West.
It had previously been estimated that Shakespeare North would cost £24 million, but the increased contribution will push its total closer to £30 million.
The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has approved an additional £4.05 million from its strategic investment fund. This is on top of the £6.5 million it has already committed to the project, taking its total contribution to more than £10 million.
The area’s local authority, Knowsley Council, has already doubled its own funding for the project as a result: from £6 million to £12.2 million. Central government has also provided £5 million.
The new combined authority money was approved at a meeting last week. A report submitted said that project costs had increased by £3.5 million since its original funding was confirmed last year, which it warned put an increased financial burden on the public sector.
The report said the project remained “high-risk”, and highlighted that the extra funding had been approved despite additional money still needing to be raised. It added that a business plan and key personnel had not yet having been confirmed and there was a risk of costs overrunning.
However, it described the theatre as a strategic priority and a “creative response to reviving Prescot” to make it an “internationally appealing destination”.
Steve Rotherham, metro mayor for the Liverpool City Region, said: “The Shakespeare North Playhouse is a hugely ambitious scheme which will attract jobs and investment, as well as visitors to the city region, and the new rail interchange will make a big difference to people’s lives. We have looked carefully at all of the options available to us and are sure that the best use of public money is to make this additional investment to make sure this exciting project happens.”
Plans for the theatre include a reproduction, 350-seat Jacobean playhouse based on Inigo Jones’ 1629 Cockpit-at-Court, as well as a Shakespeare education centre, studio theatre, exhibition area and cafe bar.
Construction is scheduled to begin in August.
The combined authority has also already committed a further £8 million towards upgrades to Prescot’s train station and transport connections.