Ipswich Regent backstage upgrades 'just the first phase' in planned improvements
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Plans for a £300,000 upgrade of Ipswich's Regent Theatre in a bid to attract bigger shows have been agreed - and will be just the first phase in exciting future plans, say council bosses.
Ipswich Borough Council's executive on Tuesday night agreed to pursue work that will see a modular building created behind the theatre to increase and improve dressing room and backstage facilities for performers and touring shows.
The £300,000 project will be built over the summer and be ready in time for the beginning of the autumn season in September.
Councillor Sarah Barber, portfolio holder for the town centre, said: "It's really good news to have this, that we will actually be using some of the money from the capital budget to really demonstrate our commitment to the Regent Theatre, and this will be phase one of some ongoing improvements to a building that is really loved through Ipswich.
"It has provided so much joy for the town and the surrounding area."
Council officers said the intention was for work not to disrupt any potential use of the theatre, although ongoing government Covid-19 restrictions means a date for the return of shows is not yet clear.
It has not yet been made clear what future upgrade plans will contain, but it is understood those will not just be to backstage areas.
Borough council leader David Ellesmere said: "This is good news for the Regent. This is one of our facilities that has closed throughout Covid, so it will be fantastic to see it re-open again.
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"This is just the first phase in some of the improvements that we hope to see to the Regent over time."
The authority said that the upgraded facilities will provide more comfort to performers and crew, and could attract larger or more varied shows to the town.
It marks a positive step forward for the historic venue, which has played host to the likes of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Foo Fighters over the years, either under its old guise as the Gaumont or as its current name.
Last year, the council was forced to close the box office there as part of cost saving measures under emergency budgets necessitated by the financial impact of Covid-19, with that now set to be an online and phone service going forward.