Project information

The Redevelopment of Bristol Old Vic

Bristol Old Vic is a unique asset; a cherished venue that is part of the national theatre landscape. Our idea is to turn this into a building that will enable a broader range of activity, with stronger artistic output and more opportunities to engage with our local community.

August 2010 - August 2013

Charity information: Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Trust Limited

Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Trust Limited logo
  • Need


    •The redevelopment that took place in 1970 no longer delivers the infrastructure required of a venue in the 21st century creating a theatre that is not being used to its full potential.

    •The majority of seats have limited leg room, the seats are old and there are poor sight lines and compromised acoustics.

    •Many decades of alterations and modifications have concealed fascinating elements.

    •Quality space is in high demand, and we have identified that we currently run beyond capacity


    Our plans will enable a broader range of activity, with stronger artistic and financial outputs and will:

    •Increase and develop talent – projects will thrive with additional rehearsal and performance space.

    •The intimacy of the auditorium will be improved by reconfiguring and replacing the current seating.

    •Encourage education and heritage interpretation

    •Increase inclusion and accessibility to the theatre’s most valuable assets.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    We aim to create an internationally renowned theatre that is rooted in its community


    » • Refurbishment of The Studio Theatre • Reinvention of the Paintshop as a flexible rehearsal and performance space • New performance space
    » • Creation of a new Theatre Heritage Centre to provide a vibrant new academic and community resource.
    » • Expansion and upgrade of current rehearsal space. • Creation of a new rehearsal space so we can welcome more artists to spend time with us.
    » • Refurbishment of Coopers’ loft providing a unique rehearsal, workshop or performance space.

    Success will be demonstrated by an increase in activity with community groups and artists both locally and nationwide

    Aim 2

    We aim to make Bristol Old Vic fit for purposed in the 21st century


    » • Refurbishment of the Georgian Bristol Theatre Royal, built 1766. Our designs for the auditorium will recapture some original features
    » • Remodelling of the technical block to include a new ‘get in’ and lift improving access for sets, technical equipment and visiting companies
    » • Relocating our production team to a second site to enable efficient delivery of all shows as well as offering skills to other creative industries

    Success will be demonstrated by increase in visitor numbers to the theatre

    Aim 3

    We aim to ensure compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act regulations


    » • Reconfiguration of foyer, café bar and function facility to increase access to the building. • Access to all performance and rehearsal spaces

    Success will be demonstrated by easy and improved access to the building

  • Impact


    • An internationally renowned theatre that is rooted in its community

    • Greater inclusivity to the theatre offering a diverse range of opportunities in which the community can engage

    • Bristol Old Vic will be artistically driven, managerially achievable and financially sustainable

    • Increased access to the Theatre Royal complex parts of which have been previously inaccessible to the public

    • An education and visitor resource accessible to all

    • An increase in visitors


    The main risk is possibility that we could be unable to reach the total amount required to complete the project. For this reason the redevelopment of Bristol Old Vic has been split into four work packages so that we can complete specific areas of the building separately, and keep functioning as an organisation throughout the scheme.


    Donors to this project will receive regular reports and updates. These will detail ongoing progress and any changes to the project.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £19,289,909

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £1,575,161 Work Package 1 Work Package 1 has been completed and included vital repairs ensuring the building was safe
      £11,714,748 Work Packages 2 and 3 This will see the historic auditorium refurbished and the technical areas redeveloped
      £6,000,000 Work Package 4 Will develop the Studio theatre and front of house areas

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Arts Council England £6,100,000 Guaranteed
    Bristol City Council £1,000,000 Guaranteed
    Trusts, Individuals, Corporate and Community groups £3,700,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Bristol is a cultural magnet, a thriving creative community bursting with potential. Bristol Old Vic’s scale, history and position gives it massive influence upon the local performing arts scene. This gives us both the potential and the responsibility to develop an effective, living model for engaging with and supporting the performing arts.


    • Practitioners including actors, designers, directors and musicians. Particularly those based in the South West region

    • Our own youth theatre ‘The Young Company’ comprising of 450 members

    • Bristol Old Vic staff and production team

    • Community Groups

    • Schools

    • People of Bristol and theatre goers nationwide

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    •The Bristol Theatre Royal is Grade 1 listed and is a unique asset and key component of the national theatre landscape

    •Seldom does any historic building of such great importance still function specifically for the purpose which it was intended

    •Over 50 professional, amateur and community groups continue to use the Theatre’s facilities

    •Bristol Old Vic has relationships with well-known, talented actors, many of whom performed upon the Theatre Royal stage early in their careers

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Tom Morris

    Artistic Director: Tom is an established world class theatre maker, most recently Associate Director of the National Theatre.

    Emma Stenning

    Executive Director: Emma has strong strategic leadership skills developed through her roles as ACE Head of Theatre (London)

    Sarah Smith

    Project Director: Sarah has over 30 years business experience working in executive management roles and managing many projects from conception.