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Stratford's dramatic cash boost; THEATRE: Agency gives RSC pounds 20m.

Byline: By Matthew Cooper

THE planned transformation of Stratford-upon-Avon's Royal Shakespeare Theatre has received a pounds 20 million boost.

Advantage West Midlands approved the grant to the pounds 100 million project, which had already secured pounds 50 million from the Arts Council of England.

AWM said the pounds 20 million award was one of the biggest and most significant investments the development agency had ever made.

The Royal Shakespeare Company intends to remodel the 1932 Grade II-listed theatre into the world's best playhouse for Shakespeare.

At the heart of the plans is a 1,000-seat "thrust stage" auditorium - a modern take on the courtyard theatres the Bard knew.

AWM chief executive John Edwards said: "The importance of the RSC and Stratford to the region's visitor economy is immense and the securing of the 2012 Olympics has made it even more important that we fully exploit the opportunities."

The ground-breaking redevelopment would maximise the potential of what is already a world class attraction, Mr Edwards added.

The revamp is expected to get under way in April 2007 and the RSC is planning to secure pounds 30 million in private subscriptions.

Vikki Heywood, RSC executive director, said: "I am delighted Advantage West Midlands has recognised the importance to the region of the RSC's plans to transform its theatre and estate.

"Arts Council England has already confirmed pounds 50 million towards the pounds 100 million cost of the project and this figure has to be matched by the RSC.

"The pounds 20 million give the RSC a solid foundation to secure the additional pounds 30 million from individuals, trusts and businesses."

The proposals for the theatre also include improved education facilities.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 6, 2006
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