As we revealed a fortnight ago, a deal has been struck for the long-awaited scheme to turn the Alnwick Playhouse into a community hub, resulting in a £3.3million makeover.
The major project, which has been described as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, will require the much-loved arts venue to be closed for almost a year from next autumn.
The Playhouse building is co-owned by Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) and Alnwick District Playhouse Trust (ADPT), but it will now be sold to Northumberland County Council and a new 50-year lease will be granted to ADPT to enable it to continue to operate the theatre, studio, bar and an expanded café facility.
Supported and advised by the team from Peter Millican Law, the deal has secured sufficient funding for the NTC to operate for more than six years and relocate to Amble where it is planning to open a performance centre.
Having launched in 1978, NTC made The Playhouse Theatre, now known as the Alnwick Playhouse, its home in 1984, converting the near-derelict cinema into a studio theatre with offices, workshops and wardrobe facilities, while the Alnwick Playhouse Trust operated the theatre and café.
Bryan Ellis, chairman of the board of directors for NTC, said: “This is a very exciting time for Northumberland Theatre Company.
“At a time when funding for productions is ever harder to come by, we have secured this deal with Northumberland County Council and are now able to look confidently to the future.
“We’re planning to create a performance space in the heart of Amble, a town increasingly known for its arts and crafts, which we feel will be the perfect base for NTC and from where we will continue to tour across the country.
“Peter Millican Law has been the perfect partner throughout our negotiations, providing expertise both for the sale of the Playhouse theatre and in negotiating the lease for our new space in Amble.”
The firm’s Peter Millican added: “This is a win-win story. The future of the Alnwick Playhouse is secured and Northumberland County Council is able to provide services from an ideal Alnwick location. At the same time, Northumberland Theatre Company has a really exciting future to look ahead to.
“Its reputation as ‘one of the very best small theatre companies in the country’ is well-deserved and now they can continue to take professional theatre far and wide for many years to come.”