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Theatre revamp will boost arts; NEW 300-SEAT AUDITORIUM WILL BE ADDED TO MAIN HOUSE.

THE pounds 10 million redevelopment of the Belgrade Theatre will provide a massive boost to Coventry's arts scene, says theatre director Hamish Glen.

The redevelopment, which is underway, includes a seven-storey extension to create a 300-seat auditorium with flexible staging and seating on three different levels.

Plans feature a new double-height glazed main entrance from Bond Street, a rehearsal facility and an outside terrace. There will also be lifts and new toilets and the listed 1950s building will also be refurbished to include new ventilation for the 850-seat main house.

Mr Glen, the artistic director, said: "The second Belgrade auditorium will be an alternative, smaller scale space in the city, allowing visits from professional touring companies that produce new writing or innovative, challenging theatre.

"It will be a place to build new audiences and fully celebrate the city's cultural diversity and will also be a new home for the educational, outreach and community work of the theatre.

"This initiative, in short, captures all the vitality and vision that is the hallmark of Coventry today.' "

The first phase of the major building project has now begun with the demolition of the theatre's old studio building in Bond Street and the construction of a new scenery entrance at the back of the theatre.

The first phase will continue throughout the summer until October. The whole development will take several years to complete.The main house is being temporary closed, but the show is going on for the theatre with events in the foyer, Coventry Cathedral ruins, Coventry University's Studio and the RSC's Swan Theatre in Stratford.

CAPTION(S):

SWEEPING CHANGES: A computer-generated picture of the new Belgrade Theatre complex; ALL CHANGE: Artistic director Hamish Glen; NEW STAGES: The Belgrade as it is now and the cathedral ruins and Swan Theatre, where productions will continue
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 17, 2004
Words:302
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