Over €0.5m to be spent giving theatre ‘whole new lease of life’

MORE than half a million euro is to be spent repairing “major signs of wear and tear” in Letterkenny’s An Grianán Theatre.
The need for “urgent action” is detailed in a new tender document seeking a design team to carry out improvement works.
The 62-page tender reveals that after two decades in business, intense usage has “taken its toll” on the Port Road building.
A budget of €600,000 has been set aside to bring the theatre up to date and to enhance its overall cultural offering.
Documents seen by the Donegal News reveal, “An Grianán Theatre recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary, reflecting with pride on many great achievements, including more than a million visitors over the past two decades.
“Staging over 200 events per year and delivering a packed programme of classes and workshops, the theatre continues to work at its maximum capacity to develop audiences and support local artists.
“However intense usage over the years has taken a toll and the building is now showing major signs of wear and tear.
“Urgent action is needed to future proof the building and ensure that An Grianán is fit for purpose for the next 20+ years.”
Under the refurbishment programme it is proposed that a new studio space be created on the upper ground floor of the existing building. It will be used for education in the performing arts such as drama classes, movement workshops and small-scale performances.
The studio will have capacity options for up to 25 people moving and 60 seated.
A second element of the revamp will be modifications to the existing box office. Management want to create a reception desk that has improved disability access including wheelchair accessibility for both the public and theatre staff.
The tender document adds, “The refurbishment and enhancements proposed would extend An Grianán’s impact on many levels, enabling it to provide more activities, better facilities and increased access for audiences, artists, staff and other user groups.
“Implementing these much long-awaited improvements would give the building a whole new lease of life, re-energising its team of staff and volunteers and marking an exciting new chapter in An Grianán’s journey.”
The upgrades will dovetail with plans for a continental-style dining area outside the theatre.
Councillors have already approved the development of a raised platform and matching ground level space with the capacity to cater for up to 50 people. A canopy will be built to shelter diners while trees and windbreaks will also be installed along with projection lighting.
Seating steps are also to be introduced as part of the scheme.
The ‘Eat Out’ infrastructure is designed to address the shortage in communal dining space that exists in Letterkenny at present.
According to An Grianán the alterations to the inside of the building will also take into account its carbon footprint with improvements to be made where possible.
“As part of this journey An Grianán is firmly committed to reducing its carbon footprint and achieving greater energy efficiencies throughout the building.
“This was identified as a key goal in a strategic review carried out by independent consultants. Some initial steps have been taken and in 2019 all front of house lights in the building were replaced with LED lighting and in 2022 with support from the Smartic Scheme, the building walls and foyer ceiling were insulated and 33 solar panels were added to the roof.”
While a budget of €600,000 has been identified, it is stressed that the €0.6 million is not a cost estimate and is subject to change along with the design development.
A target date of September 4 this year has been identified with completion earmarked for December 31.


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