Work starts with theatre to expand with £300,000 development

Karen Read, theatre manager, and Richard Gilbert

Karen Read, theatre manager, and Richard Gilbert, at the start of building works at the Seagull Theatre in Pakefield. - Credit: Seagull Theatre

Work is under way on a new £300,000 development at a popular community theatre.

Ground was broken this week to mark the start of works to extend The Seagull Theatre in Pakefield, Lowestoft.

It comes after the not for profit arts venue on Morton Road received a grant of more than £240,000 from Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme in May.

Back then, the venue was among 66 cultural organisations and one of only 11 theatres across the country to benefit from a share of a £22.7m investment programme to help venues after the pandemic.

Management at the theatre said it would use the money to expand and improve accessibility by developing its building to support more local people.

With works under way this week on the £300,000 development project to enlarge their facilities, the extension is being constructed by Lowestoft-based firm Gilbert.

Karen Read, theatre manager, and Richard Gilbert

Karen Read, theatre manager, and Richard Gilbert, at the start of building works at the Seagull Theatre in Pakefield. - Credit: Seagull Theatre

Operating out of a converted 1895-built school building, the development of the new facilities will include a new accessible toilet block, a new accessible downstairs rehearsal studio, an extra dressing room and a large new workshop space.

It will also see access to the stage improved with a new set of access doors and more space in the wings.

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Karen Read, theatre manager, met with Richard Gilbert, owner of Gilbert Builders, as the project started this week.

Karen Read, theatre manager, and Richard Gilbert,

Karen Read, theatre manager, and Richard Gilbert, owner of Gilbert Builders, as the new building project at the Seagull Theatre in Pakefield started this week. - Credit: Seagull Theatre

Mrs Read said: “After five years of planning and hoping, we are so excited to finally be starting work on our build project.

"We are only a small theatre, but we offer so much for the area already, and this extension will just mean that we can do more for our community.

"The Seagull is a not for profit organisation and therefore raising funds for a venture like this has been really challenging, but thanks to the help and recognition of the Arts Council and the generosity of all our supporters, we are finally able to make a start.”

The building project is set to run until March 2023 when the theatre hopes to have a grand opening ceremony to celebrate.