Project information

Watford Palace Theatre, transforming the facade

We are embarking on a major refurbishment of WPT’s Edwardian, Grade 2 listed building façade. The fundraising project will create the foundation of a partnership between the Theatre and its trustees, businesses and the public to provide capital for the project and a blueprint for future fundraising.

August 2010 - April 2011

Charity information: Palace Theatre Watford Ltd

Palace Theatre Watford Ltd logo
  • Need


    Whilst the Theatre has a customer database of over 40000, of whom 50% attended in the last 2 years, only 317 subscribe to a membership scheme and 85 donate on a regular basis. The Theatre is located in heart of the town centre and its business community but does not currently have a committed core of regular donors from either sector. WPT recognises the need and importance of building/maintaining sustained long term relationships with all its donors, in order to facilitate future fundraising.


    Refurbishment of the façade offers a highly visible project around which to commit the support of donors. It provides a clear point of focus for increasing the level of support from existing donors and establishing a more substantial core group of new donors. It will provide the foundation for establishing a portfolio of sustained relationships with donors and kick start new relationships with individual supporters, enabling us to build capacity for future fundraising via individual giving.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Develop existing relationships with donors and create relationships with new supporters


    » Mailings to WPT in house databases and databases of partners who have offered to support the project in order to introduce the project
    » Regular use of eshots, social media campaigns and media partners to build support and establish commitment
    » Undertake an extensive telephone campaign to targeted groups to include the use of celebrities to make calls
    » Set up meetings with key businesses using WPT business contacts database and working closely with local organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce

    Success will be businesses and individual supporters pledging financial support. Comparing new and previous financial support will provide an indication of success.

    Aim 2

    To develop these initial relationships into long lasting and sustainable relationships with donors.


    » To begin the journey of building a relationship every donor will receive a personalised thank you letter
    » After the initial project donors will be invited to ‘thank you event’ where more details of the refurbishment will be available to view
    » To encourage a more day to day involvement with the Theatre, donors will be invited to join WPT Circle membership scheme
    » Throughout the refurbishment project, donors will receive regular mail/email updates with photographs about the progress of the project

    Success will be that a database of potential future donors will be indentified enabling regular contact to be made with donors to facilitate creating goodwill towards WPT.

    Aim 3

    Use these relationships to increase long term fundraising potential
    To engage more people with WPT


    » Personalised and targetted mailings will be sent to encourage donors to make a commitment to regular donations via direct debit
    » A series of meetings and mailings will be set up to encourage business donors to support additional projects and join a corporate membership scheme.
    » A range of marketing activity, both in house and with partners will aim to raise awareness of range and scope of activities and events at WPT
    » Donors will be encouraged to attend WPT productions, engage with the work of the particpation team and generally utilise WPT's wide ranging facilities

    Success will be when donors commit support through: further donations,membership schemes, legacies, participation, attending productions, sponsorship, engaging more with WPT's work

    Aim 4

    Build a culture of a sense of belonging to and ownership of the Theatre.


    » Undertake marketing activity that aims to encourage donors to visit WPT website for project updates
    » Send out targetted mailshots/eshots to include donor specific ticket offers/incentives
    » Give business donors the opportunity to become founders of Corporate Circle Membership Scheme and become more actively involved with the Theatre
    » Organise a series of exclusive social events at WPT to provide donors with opportunities to view the progress of the facade refurbishment

    Success will be seen when donors: visit website, begin to/increase attendance, support further fundraising activities, act as ambassadors for WPT, encourage others to support WPT

    Aim 5

    To increase WPT's presence in the vicinity, positioning it as "A Gateway" to arts/culture in Watford


    » Improvements to be made to the exterior and surrounding area lighting to include feature lighting, spot lighting and floodlighting to enhance presence
    » Redecoration to all façade items, windows and stucco to reflect past heritage.
    » To introduce banners and posters giving symmetry to the entrance and high visibility from a distance.

    Success will be measured through research that will be undertaken to ascertain the impact and change in perceptions that the refurbishment work has achieved.

  • Impact


    The project presents WPT with a unique opportunity to build capacity for the future in core areas. This project will provide the blueprint that will enable WPT to build long term relationships with its donors and also for interdepartmental project work within the organisation, directly impacting on the Theatre’s long term fundraising capabilities and on all aspects of WPT’s work.
    This success will be able to be demonstrated by an increase in:
    individual giving
    in corporate support


    There are risks associated with the changing availability of the celebrities approached to endorse of this project. These risks will be mitigated by seeking commitment of support from additional celebrities, therefore minimising the impact of the possible withdrawal of one or more celebrities.
    There are risks associated with conforming to listed building regulations. Early and collaborative dialogue and working with the Heritage Buildings officer will minimise this risk.


    Donors will receive regular email/text/social media/website updates/phone calls about the project which will include detailed progress reports and colour photographs. Donors will be invited to a celebration to mark the completion of the facade refurbishment. Local media coverage will also be used.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £116,620

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      Amount Heading Description
      £10,200 Building Costs Access Equipment, CDM, Waste Management - Prelims
      £21,870 Fees & Professional Services Architect, Structural Engineer, Town Planning, etc
      £39,400 Essential Façade Repairs - Bri Stone restoration, brickwork pointing
      £14,500 Restoration Of Period Windows Restoration of timber sash windows & opening systems
      £15,450 Restoring Theatres Original 19 Canopy, Lighting, Domes and Features
      £15,200 Entrance Door/Signage Refurbish feature doors & improve access/Restore original sign locations & Visual Improvements
  • Background


    Watford’s population is over 80,000, of whom around 20% are from minority ethnic backgrounds. Hertfordshire’s population is 1,095,500. The town is in Arts Council England’s East region. Built in 1908, this 600 seat former Edwardian music hall and Grade II listed building is home to WPT. WPT is one of 3 producing theatres in the region and receives revenue funding from ACE East and Watford Borough Council.


    WPT reaches 150,000 people p.a. generating a spend of £1m+ in the local economy. Engaging with and building the foundations of long term relationships, impacts far wider than direct financial contributions alone. Increased revenue will facilitate WPT fulfilling its commitments toward producing, presenting, participating and partnering. WPT’s work contributes to the identity of Watford and Hertfordshire, enriches people’s lives, increases pride in the town and raises the profile of the area.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Planning, managing and co-ordinating this project in house, rather than using an outside agency ensures that we maximise the potential to utilise the data and contacts for future fundraising activities and projects. Furthermore the involvement of the whole organisation in this project will facilitate capacity building within WPT in areas such as audience development and participation as well as all aspects of fundraising.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Richard Harrington MP

    As a regular WPT theatregoer Richard is a fervent advocate of the Theatre and has pledged his maximum and sustained support for this project.

    Maureen Lipman - Actress

    Maureen and her family actively support WPT and act as ambassadors for it. They will take a hands on role both prior and during the campaign

    Hardeep Singh Kohli – Entertainer And Chef

    Hardeep is a local resident who is a keen supporter of local charities and is appearing at WPT in October 2010 and will assist with a phone campaign.

    The Trustees/Board Of WPT

    The trustees will make appropriate personal financial commitments to this project and alongside the WPT staff will play a pivotal role in its success.