Hamish Ogston Foundation offers ray of light in dark times to historic theatre
Richmond’s Georgian Theatre Royal – Britain’s oldest working theatre in its original form – has received £375,000 from the Hamish Ogston Foundation to fund an extensive auditorium development programme, enabling it to embark on an ambitious capital works project that will provide more comfortable seating and improved views of the stage whilst maintaining the building’s heritage and authenticity.
Like all arts venues across Britain, the Theatre is currently shut due to Covid-19 restrictions with no clear indication of when it might be able to re-open its doors to the theatre-going public. To capitalise on this situation, the Hamish Ogston Foundation has come forward to fund the auditorium development project so that it can coincide with this enforced period of closure.
“This exceedingly generous donation offers a wonderful opportunity for the Theatre to turn what could have been a bleak and worrying time into something with a very positive outcome” said Clare Allen, Chief Executive of The Georgian Theatre Royal. “The continued ‘dark’ period can now be used to very constructive effect.”
A feasibility study was undertaken in 2018 to determine how the seating could be made more comfortable without detracting from the ambiance of the Grade 1 listed 18th century building. The results of the study were shared with Richmond Town Council (who own the building), Friends of The Georgian Theatre Royal, volunteers and Richmond and District Civic Society. The plans were fully endorsed by Historic England and Listed Building Consent was granted in April 2019, ahead of securing funding for the project that has now been pledged by The Hamish Ogston Foundation.
“I am delighted to be able to facilitate this aspiring and most worthwhile project through the work of my Foundation,” said Hamish Ogston. “It is essential to preserve historic buildings like this, particularly when they house some of our most enduring traditions. By developing and enhancing them in creative ways we can ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy them as we do.”
Hamish added, “I hope that my contribution will also be a catalyst for other benefactors to come forward and support the Theatre; not only during this current crisis but to enable it to pursue other phases of this development to provide future strength and sustainability.”
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