Key restoration work unveiled at Theatre Royal Brighton

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Theatre Royal Brighton this week unveils its new terracotta colonnade after 18 months of work and the installation of 1,551 new terracotta sections.

Marking a landmark moment in the building’s 216-year history, an outdoor seating area of The Colonnade Bar, situated under the colonnade, is also being launched, complete with its own new website for the pub to tell people about upcoming events there. The venue is also unveiling new logos for both theatre and pub.

The work on the façade comes as part of a multi-million pound investment from ATG Entertainment to future-proof the venue for future generations and ensure the comfort of visiting patrons, casts and crew.

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Theatre director Sophie Denney said: “The overarching main project was completely stripping back the original colonnade balcony and the facade. In the 1920s they started painting the terracotta and over the next 100 years they put on something like 24 coats of paint on the terracotta. The architect did a scratch-off and found that many layers and the point is that terracotta absolutely isn't meant to be painted. It's the worst thing that you can do to it because it starts to crumble. It's been lots of different colours over the years. There was a light blue on there at one point and it's been white for a long time. There was definitely green on there and I believe it was also painted for Pride.”

Theatre Royal Brighton - colonnade work completed (contributed pic)Theatre Royal Brighton - colonnade work completed (contributed pic)
Theatre Royal Brighton - colonnade work completed (contributed pic)

But now the damaged terracotta has been replaced with new: “We have had 1,551 tiles come down from Loughborough and that started in January and February. They were individually put onto the facade and all the steel works have been replaced. They are all fixed around a steel grid.”

The final task was to fix the lighting, and Sophie is delighted with the result: “It looks great now and we can now use the balcony. Audience members have not been on the balcony for five to seven years or so. It's been quite a while so it is great to have it back.”

It all comes as part of a major investment in the building: “Between £3m and £4m has been spent on the building over the last 18 months. We've done a lot on water supplies and electricity and wiring and new seats and carpeting and we've refurbished toilets. It is amazing. ATG (Ambassador Theatre Group) in the last ten years have really invested in their venues from the perspective of future-proofing them, fixing things before they need fixing and reviewing what needs to be done. For the team to see that investment into a venue is just so important and it's really exciting to let our audiences see the next stage. We have got a 216-year-old building here and there will always be things that need doing. It's like painting the (Forth Road) bridge. You finish and you start again. We've got some internal work over the summer and some painting that needs to be done. It's always going to be continuous but certainly the shop front of the building is looking great.”

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Creative Learning events under the colonnade this may half term - free drop in events, everyone welcome, no booking necessary:Tue 28 May 1pm – 3pm: Mini terracotta pots and model makingWed 29 May 11am - 1pm: Make a pop-up Theatre Royal BrightonThu 30 May 1.30pm – 3.30pm: Mini terracotta makes and pop-up theatresSat 1 Jun 1 - 3pm: Seaside themed arts and crafts

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