Farnham Maltings has been awarded £455,000 by Arts Council England towards the cost of transforming the Great Hall into a multi-use space including the creation of a 230-seat studio space. Together with funding from Waverley Borough Council this £600,000 project is scheduled to happen over the summer and will include the installation of newly configured seating, a new control room, improved heating and lighting upgrade.
‘To say we are thrilled would be something of an understatement’ said Gavin Stride, chief executive of the Maltings. ‘It is a huge endorsement of our ambition to create a contemporary, ambitious organisation fit for the future. To attract this investment from a national body to Farnham in these cash strapped times is extraordinary. I am reminded, in this moment, of all the people who have, since 1969, given their time and affection, shovelled earth and concrete, painted walls, sat in committee meetings, and believed in the value of what we do.’
For the past two years the Maltings has been talking to users, festival organisers, professional and amateur theatre companies, young people and audiences to find ways of improving the experience of the Great Hall. Already the dressing rooms and back stage areas have been refurbished with plans afoot to completely upgrade the front of house toilets later this year.
Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: ‘We are pleased to be able to support Farnham Maltings ambitions to transform the Great Hall. The work will extend its capacity to offer a wonderful experience for both audiences and artists, and increase the whole organisation’s long term future.’
The news comes as the Maltings embarks on a new partnership with the University for the Creative Arts to deliver a degree in Acting and Performance, which will see the first group of students arriving this autumn.
Bill Baxter, Chairman of the Council of Management was equally upbeat about the value of the project. ‘This is fantastic news. We want to make sure we do the best we can for all the people of the town and this is the latest step in that adventure’.
The redevelopment work is due to start in Mid-July and run for 10 weeks, in time to be opened for the start of the Autumn season. The Maltings will continue to provide a full programme of events, productions and activities in the remaining craft and performance spaces throughout the Summer.
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