Arts Council England has confirmed that it will contribute £12 million towards the scheme, called RENEW, which aims to restore and upgrade the Festival Theatre, which this year is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
According to press materials, this funding "immediately unlocks an additional £8million in pledged local support from businesses, trusts and individuals, and, most notably, from West Sussex County Council and Chichester District Council who have pledged £1.5million and £500,000 respectively." This means that £20 million of the total cost of £22 million has been raised, and that "contracts can be put to tender immediately with a view to work starting before the end of the year."
The planned works, which will take 18 months to complete, incorporate essential repairs to the Grade II listed Festival Theatre, a new extension, increased seating capacity, improved access and public facilities, improved backstage facilities and changes to make the building more energy efficient.
A fundraising campaign, ongoing for two years now, continues now to raise the essential remaining £2 million.
The theatre has made a planning application to Chichester District Council to build a temporary 1400-seat "Pavilion on the Park" in which to house Festival 2013 productions, alongside those that will play in the Minerva Theatre, during the extensive building work. In a press statement, Alan Finch, executive director of the theatre, commented, "This news is the icing on the cake in our 50th anniversary year and the result of two years of hard work by our development team and our dedicated RENEW Campaign Committee... The Festival Theatre is now operating on a scale way beyond what was envisaged when it was built and opened in 1962. Its ability to develop and prosper, with a renewed reputation for artistic and commercial success, is a source of pride to everyone here. Jonathan Church and I are committed to making this project work and ensuring that the Festival Theatre is here for the next 50 years and beyond. The theatre has, throughout its 50 years, enjoyed remarkably loyal support from local people and businesses and the degree to which they have stepped up to support this campaign, even in this current financial climate, is overwhelming."