Burnham-On-Sea’s new-look Princess Theatre and Arts Centre re-opened its doors to the public on Monday (June 7th) following a year’s closure due to Covid restrictions and a major refurbishment.
The facilities have been shut since March 2020 but a major refurbishment project has been underway to give the theatre a £170,000 overhaul.
New tiered 200-capacity seating has been installed in the main auditorium where there is a new-look stage, new decorations throughout, and high-tech lighting and projection equipment for theatre shows and film presentations.
The entry foyer has been given an impressive, modern new look, including a new booking office area, while the cafe and upstairs Pizey Room have been given fresh, modern new redesigns to make them more welcoming and current.
The modernised theatre was re-opened on Monday by Business Development Officer Beccy Armory, who told Burnham-On-Sea.com she is “proud and excited” to be unveiling the upgrades.
The modernisation has been funded with £163,000 from the Hinkley Point C mitigation fund and £7,000 from the Friends of The Princess.
The first chance to try the new seats at a performance will be on June 17th when the theatre holds a show called ‘Simon and Garfunkel Through The Years In Concert’ for a socially-distanced, all-seated event. Tickets are on sale from £15 from the box office.
John Challis, who played Boycie in the BBC’s Only Fools and Horses, welcomed the opening of The Princess, saying: “It’s been a difficult year for all of us but I was delighted to hear that your lovely little theatre, The Princess, has received some TLC and is looking good and is ready to receive all those eager theatre-goers, myself included early next year! So I just want to say thank you all the volunteers and to everyone who has worked so hard to get The Princess up and running again.”
A spokeswoman says the first stage of the venue’s re-opening will also see it “operating as a gallery for our new art exhibition, called ‘Contact’, which features the varied responses of 12 diverse artists to the experience and consequences of the pandemic.”
“The exhibition acts as a reflection of the very real need for human contact during lockdown and what our new way of life looks like.”
The second stage of the venue’s re-opening will see the return of all regular use of the venue, when new classic film screenings will begin, and full-capacity ticketed events will return.
“Some basic social distancing measures may remain in place to ensure the safety of all our users, again this is all subject to government guidance,” adds the spokesman.
The theatre was awarded £66,702 lifeline funding from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund last October, as Burnham-On-Sea.com reported here. It also received a further £27,356 grant, as we reported here, from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund in April to help the arts sector recover and re-open.
See a compilation video here of local people welcoming the re-opening of the theatre.