Fringe Box



£3m Grant Approved for Yvonne Arnaud Theatre to make it More Accessible

Published on: 30 Jun, 2023
Updated on: 30 Jun, 2023

By Emily Coady Stemp

local democracy reporter

A £2.9 million investment into Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre will aim to make it more accessible and “open it up” for more communities across Surrey.

The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is to receive a £3 million grant for improvements.

The Yvonne Arnaud is Surrey’s only producing theatre. It applied for funding through Surrey County Council’s Your Fund Surrey scheme, to make the listed building more accessible, including accessible toilets and a lift.

A cabinet meeting of Surrey County Council on Tuesday, June 27, approved the funding, which will be paid in stages, for the theatre, which was built with funds raised by the community.

Denise Turner-Stewart (Conservative, Staines South & Ashford West), the county council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for communities and community safety, said the iconic theatre brought in visitors from across Surrey, totalling 128,000 visitors per year to performances, events and community activities.

The theatre’s director and chief executive, Joanna Read, referred to annual funding cuts from Guildford Borough Council as “demoralising” and “irresponsible” in January 2022 as the authority worked to bring its budget under control.

Regarding the new funding, she said: “The arts play a critical role in supporting our health and wellbeing and building cohesive communities.

“It’s good to have the backing of our county council, especially our ward councillor, Fiona Davidson (R4GV, Guildford South-East) as we continue our work bringing excellent theatre and arts engagement to the people of Surrey.

“Our vision for the Arnaud maintains its theatre traditions while building on our creative heart; repurposing a 1960s building to deliver multi-faceted offerings for 21st-century audiences.”

The leader of Surrey County Council, Tim Oliver (Cons, Weybridge) said: “It’s important for people to realise it might be a theatre in the evening, but it is an absolutely well-used, well-liked community space during the day.”

Your Fund Surrey is used to fund capital community projects, and has now awarded more than £10 million since its launch in November 2020.

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