The oldest operating theatre in England, Bristol Old Vic, has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £220,500 to create a landmark heritage project to celebrate its 250th birthday. The grant will support the nine month development project, and another grant is being submitted for a further £.2.26m in funding.
Already recognised as a centre of artistic distinction for its history and high quality programme of events, the nation’s oldest theatre will now also be an important heritage attraction. The project includes a refurbishment of part of the theatre, a conservation project for the original 18th century theatre façade, the protection of the theatre’s paper records and the creation of new public spaces and programmes, including an online archive.
Not only will the historic landmark be protected thanks to this funding, but also the records of the theatre will be preserved and available to a whole new audience. Archives of theatrical heritage will be brought to life during the project by scanning the heritage records which are currently held between the Bristol Record Office and the University of Bristol Theatre collection.
Creating a digital archive of documents which could date back hundreds of years isn’t without its difficulties – it’s vital to keep the originals in mint condition throughout the scanning process. Pearl Scan are experts in scanning delicate documents and books of high importance, ensuring the technology does not damage the records.
The Old Vic was originally named The Theatre Royal, and was built between 1764-1766. The lottery funding for the heritage project has been awarded at the perfect time so the artistic institution can celebrate its 250th birthday. The building can be restored and enjoyed for many years to come, and modern audiences will have access to some of the theatre’s programmes and archives online.
Emma Stenning, chief executive at Bristol Old Vic said, “We’re thrilled that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support as it will enable us to push forward with our exciting plans to transform the theatre into an internationally-significant hub of cultural and historical interest. This major redevelopment project will allow tourists, theatre audiences, day visitors and schoolchildren to engage with Bristol Old Vic’s fascinating heritage like never before.”
If you have a large collection of historical records or archives which you’d like to protect, we can help you digitise your collection with our heritage scanning service. Get in touch for more details.