Temporary home for Chichester Festival Theatre during works

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CHICHESTER Festival Theatre is seeking planning permission for a temporary theatre near the main CFT buildings next summer for the venue’s 50th anniversary season.

CFT bosses want the structure in place for three months, from July to September 2012.

Chichester Festival Theatre spokeswoman Debbie Plentie said: “If the application is successful, the structure will be built at Oaklands Park and used as a third performance space for a number of studio productions during Festival 2012.

“The project will be curated by the graduates of Chichester Festival Theatre’s trainee director scheme.”

The move will hark back to the days before the Minerva when a tent was a popular temporary performance space at the venue. But equally, the tent-type structure will point towards the future.

As part of an ambitious £22m modernisation project, for which the CFT is preparing a planning application, the idea is that the main CFT building will shut for renewal and extension works during an entire summer season – when the venue will transfer productions to the temporary structure.

In support of the CFT’s plans, which aim to secure the building for the next 50 years, a £500,000 grant is being recommended by the district cabinet.

If the full council accepts the proposal, the cash will come from its reserves and also be subject to other funding being secured.

A substantial grant is being considered by West Sussex County Council, and millions of pounds could be coming from the Arts Council.

Cllr Tricia Tull, cabinet member for finance and resources, said they were confident the district council would receive substantial capital receipts in the future, which would go into the reserves.

Cllr Myles Cullen said there was still an awful lot of money to be raised by the theatre, but the Arts Council was helping.

“We know from our economic assessments the tremendous income the district receives as a result of the theatre being the success it is,” he added.

“The requirement to modernise the theatre has been agreed – it must get on with the job.”