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Lottery funding boost for Theatre Royal’s anniversary celebrations

PUBLISHED: 09:53 23 October 2014 | UPDATED: 10:36 23 October 2014

The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds.

The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds.

A popular theatre in Bury St Edmunds has learnt it will receive £65,200 in funding for a new project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its reopening.

The Theatre Royal is receiving the support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which will help to tap into people’s recollections of 1965, when the building was transformed from Greene King’s barrel store to a working community theatre.

This anniversary project will create an archive of living memories through the collection of stories from the people and groups who campaigned to reopen it.

A 50th anniversary exhibition at the theatre will complement a series of talks and tours and the archive collection will be digitalised to be presented online and through social media.

This will all be added to the Theatre Royal’s own archive, as well as those belonging to a range of amateur societies, Greene King and other individuals. School and community groups will also be involved to ensure as many people as possible can share in this story.

All this will inspire a new, high-profile play to be presented in the town providing further heritage learning and volunteer opportunities.

Karen Simpson, director of the Theatre Royal, said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“This project will put the Theatre Royal back at the heart of the local community by people engaging with its history and taking ownership of it.

“It is a celebration of the importance of the theatre within its community and the 50th anniversary is the perfect opportunity to create a dynamic presence in the town.”

She added: “We currently have no recordings of the people who experienced first-hand the reopening of the Theatre Royal in 1965 and the archive material is in a poor state and spread across a range of places.

“If it is not collected now, not only a vital piece of local history but a key part of British theatre history will be lost for future generations.”

Stuart Hobley, development manager at Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “This is a story about local people who worked together to save an important heritage site. And now, thanks to Lottery players’ money, we can all share in that local passion for heritage and use it to champion the Theatre Royal for another 50 years.”

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