As construction continues on the restoration and redevelopment of Perth Theatre, demolition work has begun to make way for the new extension.

The three storey extension adjacent to the B-listed Edwardian auditorium will contain new foyer space, restaurant, bars, new 200-seat studio theatre, community room and lift to all floors. The demolition will expose the original auditorium wall, constructed in 1899-1900 which will be retained as a feature of the redeveloped space.

The historic auditorium will be meticulously restored as part of the Transform Perth Theatre project. Features such as walls, plasterwork, seating, flooring and lighting will be repaired and replaced and the original decorative interior of the theatre with walls predominantly red and mouldings accented in cream and gold will be replicated.

The upper circle ‘gods’ will be reinstated and a new orchestra area will be created.

Creative learning is at the heart of Horsecross Arts and accommodating its thriving community programme forms an essential part of the theatre transformation. Home to Scotland’s oldest youth theatre, Perth Youth Theatre, which turns 50 this year, the transformed Perth Theatre will feature dedicated spaces for the 20,000 plus community participants Horsecross Arts engages with every year.

Magnus Linklater, chair of Horsecross Arts, the creative organisation behind Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre said:

“We are delighted to see work starting on our new theatre. The demolition work at the back of the building has begun -- and it is here that our exciting new premises, with space for community programmes, as well as our new studio theatre, will emerge.

The much-loved auditorium will, of course, remain, and will be completely refurbished, with the upper circle which has remained unused for so long, brought back to life.

So, when the new Perth Theatre opens its doors towards the end of 2017, our audiences will find a theatre that they will recognise immediately, but which has been completely redecorated and restored, opening into a magnificent new building, with its entrance in Mill Street, in which they will find every modern facility that a 21st century theatre should have. It is a theatre that Perth will be proud of.”

Gwilym Gibbons, chief executive of Horsecross Arts said:

“The exciting transformation of Perth Theatre will not only enhance our cultural and community activities but the new spaces created will provide the perfect complement to Perth Concert Hall’s thriving conference and events business. All the money raised goes straight back in to supporting our arts and creative learning programmes, not to mention the broader economic benefits to the surrounding area of attracting top organisations and business visitors to Perth. This extra flexibility will prove an enticing prospect to our many corporate clients, helping us increase earned income and reduce reliance on public funding.”

Perth & Kinross Council Leader and Project Board Chair Councillor Ian Miller said:

“The transformation of Perth Theatre is a key part of the Council’s aim to develop a cultural quarter for Perth City Centre so it is very exciting to see first-hand the start of work on this major project. On completion the Theatre will be ready for many more years of entertaining and enthralling audiences of all ages and interests.”

Philip Deverell, Director, Strategy at Creative Scotland said:

“The Perth Theatre redevelopment project will transform a much loved building into one of Scotland’s most enjoyable theatre spaces. The works, about to commence, will restore the historic auditorium to its original splendour, create a new studio theatre space, as well as deliver back stage and audience facilities worthy of a 21st century cultural experience. When it reopens at the end of 2017 Perth Theatre will create improved spaces in which to nurture talent and create new and exciting work for audiences to enjoy, complementing the international standard of its sister Concert Hall. Creative Scotland is pleased to have supported the redevelopment of Perth Theatre with an investment of £2,000,000 through National Lottery funding and to continue to support Horsecross Arts through Regular Funding.”

Gary Bushnell, chief executive of project development company hub East Central Scotland said:

“Excellent early progress has been made in the demolition phase of the redevelopment plan and we look forward to managing the project to its successful completion in 2017, creating a unique cultural venue that will continue to play a key role in the community.”

Kevin Dickson, regional managing director of project contractors Robertson Tayside said:

“Work to transform Perth Theatre is well underway and we are delighted to be redeveloping the historic building.

“The theatre has been an important fixture of life in the city for more than a century. With a restored main auditorium, new studio theatre and an array of flexible creative learning spaces on the horizon, this redevelopment will firmly establish Perth Theatre as a cultural hub which is accessible to more performers and audiences than ever before.”

Perth Theatre has a long history of artistic innovation and excellence having been at the heart of cultural life in Perth for over a century. The transformation of the theatre will restore and redevelop one of Scotland’s oldest and best loved theatres for generations to come. The B listed Edwardian auditorium will be restored to its former glory and a new 200 seat studio theatre will be created. The newly transformed venue will have increased workshop spaces for creative learning and community projects including the thriving Perth Youth Theatre which turns 50 this year. Due to be completed late 2017, the High Street entrance to the building will be retained, with a new frontage created on Mill Street, improving access and facilities for visitors.

Horsecross Arts has been pledged £15.1m for Transform Perth Theatre, with funding coming from project partners Perth & Kinross Council, Creative Scotland, The Gannochy Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund, other trusts and foundations, individual donations and other supporters and funding bodies.

Horsecross Arts is now looking to raise an additional £1.5 million from local businesses, generous visitors, audiences, communities and supporters to ensure that the newly transformed venue is fully equipped and furnished for a new century of theatre in Perth.

There are several ways to donate to the Transform Perth Theatre project ranging from buying a Perth Theatre supporter’s pin badge to seat dedication, as well as bespoke business sponsorship opportunities including naming rights for the new studio theatre, community spaces, bar and restaurant areas and auditorium boxes.

Theatre lovers can also show their support by sharing their memories of Perth Theatre through the #PlayingMyPart campaign centred on a large-scale display in sister venue Perth Concert Hall’s Threshold artspace.

Those who would like to take a more active role can find lots of suggestions for fundraising activities as well as all the donation options on the Transform Perth Theatre pages of the Horsecross Arts website.

Horsecross Arts will be holding a free drop-in session for members of the public to find out more about the Transform Perth Theatre project and the fundraising campaign in Perth Concert Hall’s Norie-Miller Studio on Monday 16 May at 2pm.