Bosses at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre have said hitting their fundraising target for the repairs of the iconic building would be “the icing on the cake” to top off a birthday year of celebrations for the historic resort venue reaching 125.
Chief executive Ruth Eastwood has praised the combined effort from audiences and loyal supporters who have all played their part in making donations at special birthday events and productions.
The campaign has pulled in a sum of £107,000 to date, £18,000 short of the £125,000 total set out in the year-long charity appeal.
Having weathered storms, threats of demolition and closure in the Grand’s rich history, Ruth says it has been a huge honour for all those involved to be giving the theatre a new lease of life at the turn of a new decade.
She added not only was the theatre an important part of the town’s heritage but also offered new experiences to theatre audiences, still striving to be “daringly different” in the industry with the wide range of entertainment on offer.
All proceeds from the campaign are to be dedicated to the vital restoration works to rebuild part of the Grade II-listed theatre’s decorative copper tiled roof and iconic pineapple, damaged in Storm Doris in 2017.
Further improvements have also been earmarked for the award-winning venue’s interior.
The theatre, which was opened in July 1894, was designed by the great Victorian theatrical architect Frank Matcham and is one of only 24 of his famous theatres left standing.
In the last 12 decades, the Grand has welcomed huge stars, local and international, from TV and film to the stage. Honoured guests include the Queen and in 2019, as part of the year-long celebrations, a royal visit from the HRH Countess of Wessex.
Ms Eastwood says: “We wanted to make it a memorable 125th birthday and it really has been.
“The icing on the cake would be to hit our target of raising £125,000 so we can start 2020 with the funds needed to carry out the repair work needed and continue our development of the building so it’s future-proofed for years to come.”
The massive fund-raising drive at the Grand was kicked off in January and the campaign received a major boost with a £12,500 donation by The Friends of the Grand. Longtime friend of the theatre Sir Ken Dodd’s widow Lady Anne Dodd also made a personal contribution, whilst Roger Lloyd-Jones, the Grand Theatre Trust chairman also donated £1,250 of his own money.
He adds:“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to protect this wonderful theatre for future generations.
“Sadly, it is a constant battle with the elements and all the money for these emergency repairs has to come out of our own reserves.
“We don’t receive any public funding for the upkeep of the building, so, as the theatre gets older, we are relying more and more on donations and the fundraising of the Friends of the Grand.”
The 125th year anniversary also saw the theatre make history with the launch of its own production company Blackpool Grand Productions Limited, and the opening of their own summer show, Around the World In 80’s Days.
As well as the birthday celebrations, the team has run a number of fund-raising activities, from special events, selling limited edition 125 Rose Gold Lapel Badges, running a year-long raffle and offering a “pay what you feel” for certain shows during the year, with the proceeds going to the Grand charity.
To find out more about fundraising activities and help support the Grand ,visit www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk/support-us/donation