Lowther Trust wants the Fylde public’s help in the £5.25m centenary revamp of historic venue and gardens.
Officials of Lowther Pavilion and Gardens are turning to the community to help kick-start a major revamp for the venue to mark its forthcoming centenary.
The Lowther Trust wants the Fylde public’s help as it prepares to go ‘back to the future’ with an ultra-modern new look intended to incorporate original features long since lost in time.
The total cost of the project, intended to be carried out in three phases ahead of the big anniversary in 2021, is estimated at £5.25m, with the initial stage £1.5m, but Trust officials hope the phasing will allow the work to go ahead as funds are raised.
After the Trust’s ambitions for the venue were first revealed in the Express in May, a design brief has now been prepared by Lytham architects Creative SPARC – and the Trust is today launching two major fund-raising efforts towards the initial stage of the project.
A striking glass atrium, opening up the foyer, café and bar to create one large public area to serve as ticket office, tourist information centre and café/bar is the key feature of the first phase, which it is hoped can get under way next summer in tandem with a £123,000 project to repair the roof which already has funding confirmed.
The names of the 500 will be engraved on the glass and walls of the buildingLowther Trust chairman Tim Lince
In the second phase, hoped to be carried out two years after the first, a second floor is planned for the backstage areas to provide showers for the performers, a large chorus dressing room which an be used for workshops and office space.
The final addition, another two years on if all goes according to schedule, is intended to see the creation of a new 150-seat studio theatre space at the back of the existing building.
Glass will be a key part of the whole project as the Trust looks to bring the Pavilion and the Lowther Gardens in which it is set together in harmony - and the major funding-raising drive is offering the opportunity for community groups and individuals to have their names etched on the new structure for posterity.
Under a funding initiative entitled Band of Names, the Trust is looking initially for 500 individuals or groups to raise £1,000 each towards the refurbishment.
Trust chairman Tim Lince said: “The names of the 500 will be engraved on the glass and walls of the building creating a solid band around the entire exterior.
“The donors could be individuals, social groups, schools, church groups, companies, arts societies – anybody with an interest in helping create an iconic theatre, information bureau, centre for the arts and community facility in the heart of the Fylde region for the next 100 years.
“Each would do its own fundraising in which ever unique way they chose but with the common aim of raising £1,000 towards the total and having a permanent acknowledgement of their donation on the walls of the building.
“This could also be a legacy gift in memory of a loved one.”
Also available is the opportunity to sponsor a seat at the theatre, which with 450 seats available at £200 a time, officials hope will raise £90,000 towards the project.
The plans pay homage to the venue’s original benefactor, the 5th Earl of Lonsdale, who was related by married to the Clifton’s of Lytham Hall and was known as ‘Yellow Earl’ because of his passion for the colour.
As well as a number of yellow features in tribute to the earl, the proliferation of glass around the proposed new structure is inspired by the original design for the building when it was opened in 1921. It was later given a piecemeal new look in the 1980s, with many of the original features lost or obscured in the process.
Mr Lince added: “Lowther is, and always will be, a community asset so we want the local community to play a major role in securing the funds for the development.
“The cost of the initial phase is estimated at £1.5m and we want to raise the bulk of that through public subscription.
“This will demonstrate public support, which in itself is essential to secure funding from public bodies, trusts and foundations.
“I strongly believe that there is sufficient enthusiasm in the region to create an iconic building serving the community and this will give everybody the chance to be a part of the theatre’s future.
“The Pavilion is in a magnificent location but it can look as though it has been placed in the grounds without any thought to its visual impact. It is an integral part of the Gardens and our brief to the design team is to explore how we can bring the Gardens and the theatre more closely together.
“Our vision is for a building that allows the Gardens to come inside’ through the use of glass walls and an atrium.
“The existing Lowther building has been developed in a piecemeal fashion over many years, with the result that it now gives the impression of a series of corridors.
“By opening up the whole front of house area we can bring the foyer, café and bar into one large public meeting space where people can meet, have a coffee or a meal, buy tickets and get information, all the while feeling as though they’re actually sitting in the gardens.”
Roger McCann, general manager of the Pavilion, added: “The Pavilion is a much loved building and a wonderful community resource.
“However, it’s showing signs of age and is in urgent need of an upgrade to make it fit for the 21st Century.
“Since the Trust took over four years ago the programme has increased enormously; we will have more than 250 events this year. I think the quality of the artists appearing is also improving as our reputation grows and the building needs to match that quality in terms of the experience for both the customers and the artists.
“For example, it is unacceptable in today’s world not to have showers available for artists after the performance.
“One of the strengths of the theatre is its flexibility and ability to present shows in theatre style and events like dances or antique fairs with a flat floor, but that comes at a price. It can take three hours to transform the space from one layout to another.
“That’s why one of our priorities is to replace the seating with a system that will allow greater flexibility.”
Janet Radcliffe, of the Friends of Lowther Pavilion, who have raised some £90,00 over the last seven years, said; “These are really exciting plans and we look forward to doing whatever we can to help.”
Mr Wolfe added: “I’m delighted to be involved with such an important local project. Our aim is to reinstate the pavilion as a local architectural landmark and to transform the existing building into an exciting place to visit and spend time, at the heart of community life”.
A meeting for interested parties is to be held at the Pavilion on Monday, July 20, starting at 8pm and in the meantime, details of the fund-raising campaigns are available from Mr McCann by email firstname.lastname@example.org, in writing at Lowther Pavilion, West Beach, Lytham St Annes FY8 5QQ, or by phone on (01253) 794221 ext. 3