Redevelopment of the city centre venue is the first major work to be carried out since 1998 and will open up its spaces to a greater number, and broader mix of people. Tony McDonough reports.
Work is set to begin on the £845,000 transformation of Liverpool’s Unity Theatre as the keys of Hope Place are handed to the contractor Vivark.
The redevelopment of the city centre venue is the first major work to be carried out since 1998 and promises to open up Unity Theatre’s spaces to a greater number, and broader mix of people, with major alterations being made to public spaces such as the entrance, foyer and first floor bar.
Improved soundproofing between Unity Theatre’s two performance spaces will allow both venues to be used together more often and, as a result, create more opportunities for work and artist development, as well as increasing revenue.
The project being carried out by Vivark at the Theatre and former synagogue has been designed by Liverpool architects K2 and is due for completion in April.
The handover coincides with the announcement of significant funding news for Unity Theatre, as a further £60,000 in contributions towards the #BuildUnityBetter project have now been confirmed.
Funders PH Holt Foundation and Garfield Western Foundation have committed £10,000 and £50,000 respectively to the major capital development work, with social enterprise First Ark Group also adding to the project funding.
The funding follows an initial £435,000 investment from Arts Council England, £120,000 from Liverpool City Council, £30,000 from the Granada Foundation and £2,000 from the Ravensdale Foundation as well as more than £20,000 in individual donations from Unity Theatre supporters.
Artistic director and chief executive Matthew Linley said “We’re all really grateful for the financial support we have received for Build Unity Better.
“It’s fantastic that the national development agency for the arts, our local council leaders, national grant-making trusts, local funders, corporate partners and scores of individual donors, have all recognised the vital contribution Unity Theatre does and will continue to make to local people, Liverpool city region, and the regional and UK theatre landscape.”
While the building is out of operation, Unity Theatre will still be bringing performance to Liverpool. The Out of Space season is taking shows out and about to venues across Merseyside, including Liverpool Cathedral, Make Liverpool, Bluecoat, Capstone Theatre, and The Atkinson in Southport.
To find out more about the #BuildUnityBetter project and fundraising drive click here.