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Friday, 03 July 2015

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Hopes high for Rosehill’s facelift

HOPES are high that Rosehill Theatre’s £4.5million revamp will go ahead this year.

by Andrew Clarke

The Whitehaven theatre is awaiting crucial funding decisions from Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC) and the Copeland Community Fund (CCF). Each has pledged £1million in principle and are currently considering whether to confirm their donations.

Theatre director Richard Elder said: “If we get positive decisions from BEC and CCF [on April 28 and June 11 respectively] – then it’s full steam ahead. We would close in the autumn and reopen in nine to 12 months.”

The money from BEC and CCF was first offered to Rosehill in 2012, but the theatre suffered a blow last summer when it was turned down for a £2million Arts Council England grant. However, Mr Elder is confident that, with BEC’s and CCF’s funding, the shortfall can be bridged to allow the revamp of the theatre and barn to “create a new cultural centre for West Cumbria”.

“When we lost the Arts Council money, BEC and CCF could have walked away and taken their money with them – but they didn’t, for which we are enormously grateful. In fact, BEC put its money where its mouth is and gave us an initial £155,000 to progress our plans which allowed us to unlock other funding.”

Rosehill’s revamp – which was awarded planning permission by Copeland Council last month – will offer training and employment opportunities, providing new front-of-house, backstage, exhibition and performance space, a renovated historic auditorium and a home for work with the community and young people. The new restaurant facilities will incorporate students from Lakes College.

BEC refused to be drawn on the funding decision. However CCF’s chair, Tim Knowles, said: “My personal view is that the project to make Rosehill and its community activities sustainable into the future, create new jobs and skills opportunities through further education links is worthy of our support; and CCF has earmarked £1million, subject to an acceptable proposal being agreed.”

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