On Thursday, at a Build Unity Better Project Board taking place at Hope Street Hotel, this rather unassuming box arrived…
In it the results of some 18 months hard work by a lot of people…..
The contracts and drawings the box contained ultimately mean we can hand over the keys to our beloved Hope Place building to contractors, Vivark, marking the first step in a £845,000 transformation of the theatre and former synagogue, designed by Liverpool architects K2, slated for completion in April 2017.
Build Unity Better is the first major work to be carried out in our building since 1998 and will open up our spaces to a greater number, and broader mix of people, with significant alterations being made to ‘public spaces’ such as the entrance, foyer and first floor bar.
(Follow this link for my first facebook live experience, showing Liverpool Echo’s Catherine Jones around)
Improved soundproofing between Unity One and Two will allow both spaces to be used together more often and, as a result, create more opportunities for work and artist development, as well as increasing revenue.
Our chair Chris Bliss, said
‘It’s incredibly exciting, after years of dreaming, scoping, fundraising and planning, to see the transformation of Unity Theatre set in motion. It means that in a matter months, we will see our collective vision of a 21st century theatre, innovatively designed by local architects K2, come to life. Once complete, Unity Theatre will be able to play an even bigger, more ambitious role in Liverpool, the region and beyond.”
The handover also coincided with some great news from two funders who have financially invested in our project.
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. That support follows an initial £435,000 investment from Arts Council England, £120,000 from Liverpool City Council, £30,000 from the Granada Foundation and £2000 from the Ravensdale Foundation as well as over £20,000 in individual donations from Unity Theatre audiences and supporters.
Alison Clark, Director North and Combined Arts at Arts Council England said:
“This is an exciting moment in Unity Theatre’s redevelopment project. Our capital programme is about supporting resilience and helping arts and cultural organisations thrive. Our investment in this redevelopment as well as the core funding we have provided through our National portfolio programme will allow Unity Theatre to grow and build on its substantial history and reputation as an important part of the creative sector in Liverpool and beyond.”
It now means that Unity is just £58,000 short of its overall fundraising target. And with a masquerade ball, crowd funding and other activity all planned we’re quietly confident we are going to meet our target.
While the building is out of operation, Unity Theatre will still be bringing exceptional 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.
During the build period, Unity Theatre continues vital work for audiences under 12 years old as its creative play workshops Splatterdays go on tour to local Liverpool libraries from January. More information can be found at unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk