£1.5m theatre plan moving to the next stage

Eastgate Theatre in Peebles.
Eastgate Theatre in Peebles.

Ambitious plans to extend a booming arts complex in Peebles through a £1.5 million redevelopment are moving to the next stage.

Eastgate Theatre and Arts Centre is enjoying a period of impressive growth with attendances up more than 14 per cent in the last year, a £5000 surplus recorded and 200 events staged in the main auditorium and studio.

The growth at the 13-year-old theatre over recent years has put considerable pressure on the building with a lack of space limiting its effectiveness.

The Board of Directors decided to tackle these limitations by applying to the Big Lottery Fund’s Community Assets programme for a major grant to enlarge and improve the building to increase its capacity, physically and operationally, and to develop an expanded suite of facilities.

These plans took a significant step forward with an offer of initial grant support of £45,000 from the Big Lottery Fund which has funded the first phase of design work, costings, and community consultation. It was hoped an added boost from Peebles Common Good Fund would be received this week, with £8375 being sought to add to the appeal coffers.

There is still a long way to go to ensure the redevelopment goes ahead but the efforts are being boosted by continuing core grant support from LiveBorders, plus funds raised through donations and fundraising by Friends of the Eastgate.

Theatre chairman, Sir David Younger, said: “I am delighted to report that for another year the Eastgate Theatre has continued to increase the number and variety of opportunities it offers for all sorts of people, in Tweeddale and beyond, to experience arts of the highest quality.

“The theatre continues to use its LiveBorders grant and revenue grants from other funders to support its operation, but this capital redevelopment proposal is on a different scale. If successful, it will bring approximately £1.5m into the area to create an arts and community asset fit to meet the needs and demands of the growing population of Peebles and surrounding areas, both now and in the future.”

Anyone interested in the development is invited to the theatre on Wednesday, December 6, from 2pm to 8pm, when the project group and design team, including the architect, will be on hand to discuss proposals and answer any questions.