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A cash boost of £2m is set to transform a Cumbrian theatre into a national beacon of artistic excellence. Arts Council England has proposed an investment of up to £2 million for West Cumbria’s Rosehill theatre through its capital investment programme. It is one of only two organisations in the North West to benefit from today`s announcement.
The money will enable the theatre to significantly upgrade its existing facilities. It will provide contemporary front of house, backstage, exhibition and catering facilities, more performance space, a renovated historic auditorium and a home for work with the community and young people. It will also provide opportunities for new commercial enterprise and income generation to support a new business model and will greatly improve efficiency and accessibility within the venue.
The theatre is aiming to raise a total of £4.5m to secure it for the future for which plans are well advanced.
Richard Elder, Director of Rosehill said: “Obviously we are delighted that Arts Council England has supported our plans for Rosehill in such a significant way. It’s a major vote of confidence in our vision and will be the catalyst for major support from others.
“Rosehill is the only professional theatre in West Cumbria and we want it to become a local theatre of national significance: a beacon of artistic excellence firmly rooted in its community, with a national reputation for exciting, innovative and participatory work.
“Today’s announcement will put us well on the way to turning our vision into a reality and will give more people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to enjoy, experience the benefits of and participate in the performing arts in a venue that is well equipped for the 21st century.”
The funds are badly needed. The theatre was created in 1959 and while great effort has been made with its upkeep it is in need of major restoration and refurbishment to meet contemporary needs. Rosehill is an important heritage building rooted in the Copeland and Whitehaven communities; its founder Sir Nicholas Sekers not only created Rosehill but was a significant employer at the local silk factory which enjoyed international acclaim.2
Councillor Elaine Woodburn, Leader of Copeland Borough Council said: “There is a need in West Cumbria for a strong and vibrant cultural sector to support existing communities and inward migration following the expansion of Whitehaven Harbour and development of Britain's Energy Coast.
As the only professional venue in West Cumbria capable of delivering such a wide-ranging, high quality and inspiring programme of arts performance and engagement, Rosehill is key to addressing this need.
"I welcome today’s announcement which is a fantastic boost to both the cultural sector and the local area. It will help enable Rosehill and its many partners to use performing and creative arts as a means to meet both the social challenges of West Cumbrian communities to tackle prevalent issues of exclusion, and low esteem and aspiration, and the economic needs of the region through new employment and training opportunities, increased inward investment and tourism.”
Jane Beardsworth, Regional Director of Arts Council England for the North West, said: “Rosehill Theatre’s redevelopment will refurbish and greatly enhance a much loved venue giving it greater capacity to develop audience involvement and enjoyment in Copeland. The proposal provides an excellent space for work with the local community and with young people and will realise the organisation’s ambition to reach beyond West Cumbria and to provide opportunities for artists and audiences from the wider region.”
Rosehill’s Team will now continue to work to raise the additional money required for the project, with decisions on further large applications due in the coming weeks.
It anticipated that work will begin on site in 2013 with the new Rosehill opening its doors from October 2014.