Barony theatre ambitions to cost £330k

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The Journal and Gazette readership area offers a wealth of talent when it comes to amateur dramatics.

Linlithgow boasts the Players and LAMP, in Queensferry there’s Forth Dimension and in Bo’ness, there are three local groups – the Operatic Society, the Children’s Theatre and the Barony Players.

With the majority busy in rehearsal for up and coming productions and pantomimes, members of the Barony Players also have more pressing thoughts on their mind.

The group recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first ever production staged at The Barony Theatre.

And it is also nearing the first anniversary of its Big Project – a restoration fund to upgrade the facility.

The theatre, formerly Borrrowstoun Primary, is now more than 100 years old and in serious need of refurbishment.

Improvements to the premises have been made over the years but the group’s aim is to bring the whole building up to modern day standards.

However, the estimated cost to achieve this is in excess of £330,000.

This would cover the costs of a replacement for the slate roof, guttering, repairing areas of water damage and timber decay, new electrics, interior ceiling replacement and an upgraded heating system.

A major fundraiser planned for November – featuring actor David Hayman, who is the theatre’s patron, and comedians Susan Morrison and Phil Differ – had to be cancelled at the last minute but it is now hoped that it can be rescheduled in the spring.

Most recently, the Players received a windfall of £945 from property developers, Persimmon Homes as part of the firm’s East Scotland Community Champions scheme.

Wendy Turner, Barony Players chairwoman, said: “Persimmon’s kind donation of Community Champions funding will help fund a new fire alarm system, which is very high on our list of priorities.

“A lot of work is needed to upgrade the facility to modern day standards.

“We are concentrating initially on the immediate requirements to safeguard the fabric of the building such as a fire alarm and emergency lighting.

“Our next goal is to replace the heating system, which is probably around 60 years old, but this will cost upwards of £50,000.

“Looking beyond that, we want to upgrade the stage lighting, which is also more than 10 years old.

“Lighting is now digitalised and we would like to bring that to the auditorium.

“After that we will look at access issues, such as disabled access to the auditorium and toilets .

“All of these repairs are a priority but it is all about funding.

“It’s quite difficult to get grants for building maintenance. For items such as lighting we can apply for funding but to do so, we have to match fund and this is where it falls down.”

Refurbishing the Barony Theatre will cost in the region of £330,000.

To help raise the money, the group has sourced grant funding and staged a series of fundraising events.

But it is also hoping the local community will rally round to support the much-loved local theatre.

Donations range from as little as £5 – every penny and pound adds up.

For just £20, members of the public can sponsor a seat, meaning they will get their very own seat in the theatre, as well as preferential booking for every production.

A £50 note will sponsor a new stage light, £20 a roof tile or, for just £10, you can sponsor an item of costume.

Wendy added: “The income from ticket sales throughout the year essentially covers the annual mainentance bills but nothing more.

“So any help with funding would be greatly appreciated.

“Our current Big Project total sits at around £7000 so there is a long way to go but we have no end date in mind.

“Thanks to Falkirk Council, we now have a lease on the premises for the next 25 years at just £1 per annum – which has also helped us a great deal.”

It is estimatedthat it will cost around £200,000 to repair the theatre’s roof – undoubtedly the lion’s share of the renovation budget.

Other costs likely to be incurred include £50,000 for the chimney removal and £30,000 for a new ceiling.

For more details, visit www.baronyplayers.co.uk.