A Borders theatre is celebrating after hitting the £70,000 fundraising target it needed to reach in just two months to secure a further £280,000 to pay for a major revamp.
That means the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles can press ahead with its redevelopment plans.
A European Leader grant accounts for £150,000 of the money now unlocked, and the other £130,000 amassed by the theatre, a former church, is a mix of further grants, donations and proceeds of fundraising events.
The first phase of the theatre’s revamp project, due for completion by the end of next summer, is to upgrade its auditorium to make it more customer-friendly and increase its capacity.
Edinburgh-based Simpson and Brown Architects has drawn up plans that will see the existing retractable seating bank replaced by padded seats offering more legroom.
Seats alongside the venue’s central aisle will be fitted with hand grabs to help customers move up and down the steps there more easily and safely.
The current balcony seats offering only a restricted view of the stage will be replaced by about 24 new seats on stepped platforms. They will be designed to give a full view of proceedings below after two sections of solid balcony are replaced by steel rail and glass panels.
The addition of swivel stools in the section of the balconies closest to the stage will allow the theatre to offer some seats at reduced prices.
Low-level safety lighting will be fitted in new side balconies, and heating ducts will be installed to deliver hot air at floor level.
David Younger, chairman of the theatre’s board of directors, said: “The Eastgate board would like to thank most sincerely the Eastgate staff, the Friends of the Eastgate and all donors who rose magnificently to the challenge of raising a sizeable sum of money in a very short space of time.
“The theatre was first developed in 2004 by the efforts of the local community, and it is heartening for all of us to realise that all these years later it is still so valued.
“By levering the European Leader grant, the local fundraising has made a huge impact locally.
“This, combined with the success of general manager Caroline Adam in attracting other significant capital grants, will help to ensure that the people of Tweeddale and much further afield have an arts venue well equipped to meet future needs.”
Talks are now under way about progressing to phase two of the proposed revamp by carrying out works to reconfigure its foyer andcafe areas.
A celebration was held at the venue on Saturday to mark its success in bridging its £70,000 funding gap in a matter of weeks, and among those there was Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell.
He said: “The Eastgate centre is a first-class facility which is a tremendous asset for Peebles residents and a growing number of visitors.
“Their latest fundraising success reflects great credit on the team who are seeing their ambitious vision realised and which will encourage more people to use the building.”