Darlington Civic Theatre to close for restoration

Model of the new theatre Image copyright Darlington Borough Council
Image caption Darlington Civic Theatre will be renamed the Darlington Hippodrome when it reopens in autumn 2017

A 109-year-old theatre is to close for more than a year for a £11.7m restoration project.

Darlington Civic Theatre will close in May and is expected to reopen in autumn 2017, under the new name of Darlington Hippodrome.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has pledged £4.5m towards the restoration, with further funds coming from donations, ticket levies and Darlington Council.

A further 1,000 seats will be installed and disabled access will be improved.

Image copyright Darlington Borough Council
Image caption About £2.9m will be spent on creating a 150-seat studio theatre and cafe called Hullaballoon for Theatre Hullabaloo

Both the exterior of the building and the Edwardian auditorium will be restored, a new entrance and gallery created and the back stage areas improved to accommodate larger touring shows.

Meanwhile, a further £2.9m will be spent on creating a new home for the Theatre Hullabaloo theatre company next door to the Civic.

The 150-seat studio theatre and cafe will be called Hullaballoon, and will connect the Civic theatre to the neighbouring Edwardian former fire station.

Nick Wallis, Darlington Borough Council's cabinet member for leisure, said: "Together the two projects will see a total investment of £14.6m in the arts in Darlington to create a theatre quarter that will cater for generations of theatre lovers."

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