Members attending the Eastgate Theatre Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 15 November were told of record attendances, up more than 14% across 200 events staged in the main auditorium and studio during the year. Attendance figures for classes in a range of arts disciplines, including visual arts and crafts, music and dance, also increased by 13%.
The latest figures show the venue recorded a surplus of £5,000 before depreciation and that more than 70% of the theatre’s turnover came from earned income – boosted by continuing core grant support from LiveBorders, plus funds raised through donations and fundraising by Friends of the Eastgate.
This growth in demand over recent years has put considerable and increasing pressure on the building and highlighted some areas where the lack of flexibility and range of spaces limits its effectiveness.
This year – 13 years since it first opened as a theatre – the Board of Directors decided to tackle these limitations by applying to the Big Lottery Fund’s Community Assets programme for a major grant to enlarge and improve the Eastgate building to increase its capacity, physically and operationally, and to develop an expanded suite of facilities.
These plans took a significant step forward in spring 2017 with an offer of initial grant support of £45,000 which has funded the first phase of design work, costings, and an extensive programme of community consultation.
Following the Annual General Meeting, Chair Sir David Younger said: “I am delighted to report that for another year the Eastgate Theatre has continued to increase the number and variety of opportunities it offers for all sorts of people, in Tweeddale and beyond, to experience arts of the highest quality.
“The theatre continues to use its LiveBorders grant and revenue grants from other funders to support its operation, but this capital redevelopment proposal is on a different scale. If successful, it will bring approximately £1.5 million into the area to create an arts and community asset fit to meet the needs and demands of the growing population of Peebles and surrounding areas, both now and in the future.”
Sir David went on to thank General Manager Caroline Adam and staff “for their enormous enthusiasm and hard work which has contributed so much to the year’s success”.
Individuals and organisations interested in the development project are invited to the Eastgate Theatre on Wednesday 6 December (2pm-8pm) when members of the Project Group and Design Team (including the architect) will be available to discuss proposals and answer any questions.