RSC achieves fundraising target as major visible construction work begins on its costume workshop

Wednesday 24th of July 2019 07:52 AM

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has achieved its Stitch In Time fundraising campaign target of £3 million to support the restoration and redevelopment of its Costume Workshop in Stratford-upon-Avon.  Major visible construction work is set to start in the coming weeks following months of site preparation and demolition of some buildings on the site, which is located on Waterside opposite the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres.

Over 30,000 people supported Stitch In Time, which launched in September 2017 and will help secure the future of costume-making in Shakespeare’s hometown. Major public funding has been secured for the project by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and The Government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.  Alongside gifts from other trusts, foundations and individuals, this completes the fundraising for the £8.7 million project.

The site is scheduled to re-open in the Summer of 2020.  The restoration and redevelopment of the Costume Workshop will create the best facilities for costume-making in a working environment fit for the 21st Century. The project will also care for the heritage Grade II listed buildings, including the 1887 Scene Dock which will become a new entrance to the building.

RSC Executive Director, Catherine Mallyon, said: “We are delighted to have achieved our campaign fundraising target of £3 million - it has been truly amazing to see thousands of people from all around the world support our campaign.

“Once completed our Costume Workshop will allow visitors to experience the heritage of the world-class Costume Workshop for themselves through tours, interactive experiences, education, participation and outreach opportunities.  There will also be new training and apprenticeship opportunities to enable costume-making skills to be passed on to future generations and to secure the future of costume-making in the town. I also thank all our generous supporters for their commitment and look forward to sharing the completed project with them.”

In the forthcoming weeks the steel frame of the building will start to take shape with 130 tonnes of steel set to arrive on site throughout August.

Ian McKellen who performed on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre stage last weekend with his one-man show Ian McKellen on Stage with Tolkien, Shakespeare, Others and You has donated all profits from the event to the Stitch In Time campaign. Ian McKellen has experienced the skill and expertise of the costume-makers who create the costumes seen by audiences all over the world.

Following the event Ian McKellen said: “Touring the country with my solo show has been invigorating but sometimes a little depressing, as I see that fewer and fewer regional theatres mount their own productions and make their own scenery and costumes. The RSC is a shining exception: and always has been.

“I remember as a schoolboy marvelling at an exhibition of Stratford costumes which in the theatre had looked glamorously expensive and yet up close were fashioned from the cheapest and most ordinary of materials. The tradition of craftsmanship thrives, thank goodness, in Stratford and I’m pleased that the RSC is to use the proceeds of my two performances there, to achieve the fund-raising target for the Stitch in Time campaign. This ensures that the RSC Costume Workshop can be restored and redeveloped. Hurrah!”

Helen Peters, Board Director at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership leading on culture and tourism, said: “This is a really exciting project on so many levels. The major refurbishment of the Costume Workshop will add another wow factor to the RSC’s offering and will be much more accessible to our visitors.

“It will also lead to a higher-skilled workforce as the next generation of costume makers learn their craft in 21st century surroundings, another important element of projects which receive assistance from the Local Growth Fund and very much part of the government’s skills agenda as reflected in the recently announced Sector Deal for Tourism.

“Tourism and culture is a vital part of Coventry and Warwickshire’s economy and the opening of this project ahead of Coventry being UK City of Culture 2021 will mean even more visitors will be heading to Shakespeare’s England and Stratford-upon-Avon.”