Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Andrew Liddle
Features Writer
9:53 PM 25th February 2021

Georgian Theatre Royal Gets Grant To Boost Environment

Richmond’s magnificent Georgian Theatre Royal – the UK’s oldest working theatre in its original form – has received a grant of £20,000 to help it to become more environmentally sustainable. The funding is part of an initiative by Theatres Trust, in partnership with the Wolfson Foundation, through its Theatre Improvement Scheme.

The Georgian Theatre Royal will use the money to replace old boilers and install a new Building Management System that will improve both the effectiveness and efficiency of the ventilation and heating in the Grade-I Listed building.

Picture ©Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond
Picture ©Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond
The work will coincide with the continuing Auditorium Development Project funded by the Hamish Ogston Foundation, which was reported in Yorkshire Time in November, 2020, when given the green light to install more comfortable seating and improve sight lines of the stage. Construction work which has taken place during the enforced Covid-19 closure period is scheduled for completion this Spring.

The money from Theatres Trust is in addition to grants from the Pilgrim Trust, the Foyle Foundation and the Normanby Trust that are also supporting the heating and ventilation work. Clare Allen, Chief Executive of the theatre, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Theatres Trust and Wolfson Foundation for this very generous donation. The previous system was only operating at around 65-70% efficiency so this will not only provide a much greener solution but one that will also give vastly superior results."

Understandably upbeat, she added: “It is the icing on the cake that the replacement of the Building Management System can take place alongside the main work to the auditorium. We are hugely grateful to all our funders for supporting a collective funding package that means that when our doors do finally open, we will be able to enjoy a smart, comfortable auditorium with better air quality and a well-regulated temperature.”

Before the pandemic took hold, the biggest challenge facing the theatre sector was responding to the climate crisis. Theatres Trust, the national public advisory body for theatres, remains committed to this priority. Theatres, like all public buildings, have an impact on the environment, with major energy consumption coming from heating, ventilation, stage machinery and lighting, and sadly many theatres do not meet modern environmental standards.

The Georgian Theatre Royal hopes to open for historic guided tours and live performances as soon as it is safe and Government guidelines allow.