17th June 2024

The Denise Coates Foundation is investing in the future of Staffordshire’s New Vic Theatre with support for three areas of capital development in the coming year. 

The Foundation, already a key supporter of major charities in the Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire area, has made a grant to the theatre of £1,161,376 to support significant improvements to the theatre building.

The investment will see refurbishment of backstage areas and facilities for younger audiences attending events in the theatre’s Studio and the replacement of theatre lighting and sound technology.  Investment from the Foundation will also support the theatre’s fundraising for environmental improvements to make the building more energy efficient.

Backstage improvements will be focused on the refurbishment of actor dressing rooms, the first significant upgrade to facilities in this area since the theatre was built in 1986, including shower and bathroom facilities.  A larger, ensuite, accessible dressing room with wet room will be installed, improving facilities for actors and community participants appearing on the New Vic stage. Public toilets for young people taking part in theatre workshops and attending shows in the Studio will also be upgraded.

Improvements to the theatre’s lighting and sound equipment will include replacement of the original 1986 backstage and public areas communications system, the installation of projection equipment and upgrades to more modern, energy efficient lighting and sound systems for the stage and rehearsals.

The donation will also go towards the theatre’s fundraising for environmental improvements and support grant investment already confirmed through Arts Council England.  Once fundraising for this project is complete it will include the installation of smart heating and ‘ventilation on demand’ control systems as well as the fitting of solar energy panels and replacement of existing boilers and single glazed windows to improve the theatre’s energy efficiency and environmental impact.  The theatre also hopes to install electric vehicle charging points on the site.

The aim of the investment across the three areas is to ensure that the upkeep of the theatre building is secured for the long term as a cultural asset for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent for generations to come. Reducing the amount that needs to be spent on maintenance costs and energy bills will in turn help the theatre to increase investment in work on stage and through education and community projects. 

Fiona Wallace, Managing Director at the New Vic, said: “We know that the Denise Coates Foundation are a major supporter of charities for our area and we are extremely grateful that the Foundation’s support for the New Vic will help look after this wonderful theatre building, now and for future generations. The New Vic is at the centre of our local community, not only as a working, producing theatre with permanent on-staff artists and theatre-makers, but also as a hub for projects with our local communities and young people. Over 180,000 people come through our doors every year. Our building has a special role to play in the architectural heritage of theatre development as one of very few purpose-built theatres-in-the-round and was the first theatre-in-the-round to be built in Europe. Over the years we have prioritised our investment on public areas that our audiences see and benefit from but environmental and backstage improvements are long overdue and will be very warmly welcomed by actors, artists, participants and theatre-goers.”

Denise Coates CBE, Denise Coates Foundation, said: “I am delighted that the Foundation is able to support this latest round of capital investment.  It will enable the Theatre to implement a modernisation programme that will result in much needed improvements to back stage areas and very importantly, New Vic will have the resources to deliver its environmental improvement plans which will significantly reduce its carbon footprint.”

The New Vic’s environmental improvement project has also received investment from Arts Council England, and the Theatres Trust’s Theatre Improvement Scheme, in association with the Wolfson Foundation.

Article by Alex Mason

Read more by this author