Council faces soaring bill for theatre revamp after £5m funding bid rejected

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A COUNCIL will have to find an extra £5m for a theatre revamp for Hull’s year as City of Culture after Arts Council England turned down a bid for funding.

Despite the disappointment councillors said they would press ahead with the work on Hull New Theatre, which has soared in cost.

Since last April it has risen from an estimated £8.7m to £11.7m.

The council will be contributing at least £6.7m to the revamp, which they say is “critical” to their 2017 ambitions.

Arts Council England said: “We of course understand and appreciate how disappointed people are that the bid to the Arts Council to support the refurbishment of Hull New Theatre hasn’t been successful. Sadly there is a great deal of competition across the country for these funds and we can only support the applications that deliver most strongly against all our criteria.”

The organisation is spending £3m on the City of Culture programme.

Coun Steve Bayes said the council remained committed to the refurbishment of the theatre. He said: “The venue is very important to the city and is absolutely critical to our plans for 2017 and beyond. With any project of this scale and ambition, there will be setbacks from time to time, however, we are actively exploring other potential funding options.”

The theatre has now closed for the renovation which will allow it to stage bigger West End shows.

The changes include adding 200 seats, extending the stage and adding extra height to the fly tower. The scheme will boost access for the disabled, with a new groundfloor entrance including a cafe bar and box office.