A plan to reinvigorate one of Britain’s oldest theatres with a bar, cafe, studios and offices is being unveiled.
The Theatre Royal in Margate – originally opened in 1787 and the fourth oldest in the country – has been closed since April last year but fresh proposals for its future and a public consultation have now been launched.
A drop-in session will take place at the venue in Addington Street on Thursday, December 7 between 2pm and 7pm.
Residents will be able to meet the architects behind the scheme and give feedback on their “new vision” for the 236-year-old theatre.
Bosses at Thanet District Council, which owns the building, want to make the building a “nationally significant performing arts hub in Margate”.
In a statement, the council said: “The plans are designed to increase the artistic and financial opportunities to support the historic theatre and to raise the profile of performing arts in the district.
“This includes developing a bar and cafe, 50-seat studio theatre, sound recording studio, rehearsal rooms/dance studio, offices and accommodation for touring theatre companies.”
To make its vision a reality, the local authority is applying for a further £3.2 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund on top of the allocated £2.2 million from The Margate Town Deal.
Locals will still be able to submit their views on the project after December 7 online through Your Voice Thanet.
Paper surveys will also be available in the reception area of the council offices at Cecil Square in Margate, between Friday 8 and Wednesday 20 December, from 10am to 4pm.
The Grade II-listed entertainment venue has the oldest stage in the UK and only Theatre Royal Drury Lane (1662), the Bristol Old Vic (1766) and the Grand Theatre Lancaster (1782) are older.
After closing last year, it has slowly fallen into a state of disrepair.
Cllr Ruth Duckworth, cabinet member for regeneration and property, said: “The Theatre Royal is an important historic performance asset, and plays a key role in Margate’s leisure offering.
“The project to restore and relaunch it is highly ambitious, and it will not be possible without the support of other major funders, an operator with vision and resources, and the support of the community.
“The Theatre Royal has the potential to provide employment and training opportunities for young people in performing arts and creative careers.
“It is a truly unique heritage stage and I would love to see homegrown talent performing in high-quality, locally made productions, as well as visiting national and international theatre productions.”