Project information

Final stage of Bristol Old Vic's Capital Appeal!

£5000 or £2500 sponsors a Theatre Seat or £500 in the Studio.
£50 buys you a brick reclaimed from our 1970's Studio Theatre.
£25 sponsors a bolt that secures the new diagrid roof in our foyer.
£10 sponsors a chandelier lamp in Coopers' Hall.
£5 sponsors a packet of seeds for our living roof.

October 2016 - June 2018

Charity information: Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Trust Limited

Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Trust Limited logo
  • Need


    Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated our 250th anniversary in 2016. Under Artistic Director Tom Morris, our historic playhouse inspires audiences with own original productions, whilst nurturing the next generation of artists. However, our front of house has been letting us down, with awkward, inaccessible spaces and poor facilities, impacting on not only our audiences but crucially limiting our opportunities to safeguard for the future.


    Over the next 2 years, while the theatre continues to present work, we are simultaneously undergoing a £25m redevelopment project to transform our front of house space into a warm and welcoming public building for all of Bristol, and beyond, to enjoy. We will create a new studio theatre, open up our unique theatrical heritage to the public for the first time and introduce new commercial and trading assets. The project is due to be completed in autumn 2018.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To present our unique heritage and comprehensive theatre archives to a far wider audience.


    » In October 2016 we received a major Heritage Lottery grant enabling us to open up our spaces for public access as never before.

    Success will be seen in % take up of a range of commercial and non-commercial activities.

    Aim 2

    To develop a new, state-of-the-art studio theatre, accommodating more performances.


    » As part of the redevelopment works, we will reconfigure the layout of the building to create a new studio in the footprint of our Coopers' Hall.

    Programming for the new studio place is already underway presenting a range of outreach works, emerging artists on our Ferment programme & homegrown small-scale productions.

    Aim 3

    To celebrate and protect our Grade I listed Coopers’ Hall.


    » We are returning its internal configuration to its Georgian origins, providing an extensive suite of public spaces used for a multitude of events.

    Coopers' Hall is the jewel in the Bristol Old Vic crown and we are in no doubt that there is demand in Bristol for a high-quality venue. Success will see a fully booked space!

    Aim 4

    To remove all barriers – physical or otherwise – to theatre access.


    » We are improving the theatre’s streetside visibility to create a welcoming and open foyer with a range of activities for everyone throughout the day.

    The theatre will be populated throughout the day with a range of service-users, curious to learn more and booking on our range of public tours, or simply relaxing over lunch.

    Aim 5

    Ensure our building exceeds modern standards of environmental sensitivity and sustainability.


    » Our environmental services consultants are predicting a £25,000 saving in annual energy costs, thanks to an industry-leading environmental rebuild.

    This will be assessed throughout the build process, meeting above regulation standards and being fully fit for purpose by the public reopening.

  • Impact


    Long-term impact with be seen in our commitment to excellence by producing work of the highest quality connecting with the people of Bristol & beyond; providing opportunities for young people & local artists in particular; reaching out to the local community, offering a cultural resource that helps fulfil educational, health & social needs, particularly to those with least opportunity; & protecting & celebrating the extraordinary heritage of our Georgian auditorium & mercantile guildhall.


    The redevelopment works are currently on time and to budget, however risks include all those inherent with a 250-year-old build site, e.g. uncovering unexpected remains & working with a structurally diverse building through different layers of development. This has been planned carefully with Bristol City Council & conservation officers to mitigate risks as far as possible. The second risk is not achieving the final fundraising target, which has been carefully planned.


    Donors will receive quarterly capital updates detailing build and fundraising progress and depending on level of support, have an opportunity to join us on site. We will also invite them to see the redeveloped spaces on reopening.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £40,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £15,000 Restoration Restoration and conservation work to an eighteenth century theatre 'machinery' called a Thunder Run
      £10,000 Equipment A lighting desk in our brand new Studio theatre
      £10,000 Access Fully accessible backstage areas for wheelchair for staff and performers
      £5,000 Fit -out Fit-out of our Coopers’ Loft rehearsal and workshop space
  • Background


    Bristol Old Vic is located in the biggest city in the South West and the seventh largest in the country. Surrounded by increasingly depleted sources of arts funding (Somerset and Gloucestershire County Councils, most notably, have cut all direct grants to arts organisations), our responsibility to the region has never been more important.


    120,000 individuals access our theatre spaces and programmes every year. We work with every ward in Bristol and our productions are often on national and international tour. We are a proud advocate for the city of Bristol and our homegrown talent can be seen by audiences far wider than our perceived immediate reach.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    It is important to recognise the value of an incredible, fit-for-purpose home for culture, and with the wealth of theatrical history associated to our Georgian auditorium and mercantile guildhall, we are best placed to continue to provide this resource in the City of Bristol.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Executive Team

    Chief Executive Emma Stenning and Artistic Director Tom Morris will oversee the Redevelopment Works.

    Haworth Tompkins Architects

    Award-winning architects Haworth Tompkins emerged from a detailed tendering process as the obvious contender to realise the Redevelopment Works.

    Paul Morrell OBE

    Formerly the government’s Chief Construction Adviser during London 2012 and adviser on the RSC's major refurbishment, Paul sits on our Board.

    Dame Liz Forgan DBE

    Dame Liz Forgan is our Chair and the first Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund and first female Chair of Arts Council England.

“Everybody knows that the Bristol Old Vic is old, rare and beautiful. What they might not know is that it’s one of the best places in the world for actors, directors and writers to put on plays and for audiences to see them.”

Sir Richard Eyre CBE