We’ve been thinking about the amazing things that have happened in 2019, the year Hall For Cornwall truly began to transform. It has been a big year, with an even bigger one just around the corner.
In September our Patron, HRH The Earl of Wessex, stopped by to see the work on our new theatre, as it starts to become reality. With 300 more seats in a three-tiered auditorium, the new space is paving the way for shows on a whole new scale.
Our unveiled heritage, lively bars and cafés and creative digital hub - with vibrant work and social spaces – will put us back into the heart of our city’s community. It was exciting to share our plans with the Earl and see he shares our belief in the power of performance and the next generation of Cornish talent.
Work on our transformation project has moved forward with great strides. The steelwork structure is now up for the new auditorium and it is astonishing to see the vision come to life before our very eyes. We can now stand in the centre of the new dress circle and lean over from the balcony to admire the stage views of our new space. Overhead, the theatre lighting bridges and technical spaces high up in the roof are poised to be installed. Outside, Boscawen Hall’s beauty is being unveiled and restored back to its original beauty as decades of paint are removed to reveal the original granite walls. Truro’s iconic clock tower is getting some much-needed love and attention ensuring it is able to stand for another 100 years.
This year, too, Sir Tim Rice became our Honorary President. A real inspiration to our performers and audience, his lyrics for stage and film musicals have told some of the world’s most famous stories. We’re very excited and lucky to have him on board.
We’re incredibly proud of our youth dance and theatre groups, who work so hard and shine so bright. This year members of our Youth Theatre group were invited to close the prestigious 2019 National Theatre Connections Festival, and our dancers took their talent to the streets for Truro’s City of Lights parade. Two former students won places at top national dance and drama schools, and we formed a new All Boys Dance group and musical theatre classes.
We’ve worked passionately for the last three years to raise just over 93% of the £21.6million we need, for Cornwall’s new theatre. And we’re keeping all pistons firing to hit our target before first curtain rise in the Autumn.
Early January 2020, we will launch This Seat Counts – our community campaign invites you to name a seat in our new auditorium, and pass on the passion of theatre, music and dance. It’s a chance to mark a memory or create a unique gift for someone special, and every donation will support our major transformation which will enable the vital youth, schools and local talent programmes we run throughout Cornwall. We also asked you to nominate someone special in your community to have a seat named after them. There were hundreds of nominations and, in the New Year, we’ll showcase and celebrate the six people our judges have chosen.
The National Heritage Lottery Fund meant our Revealing City Hall project could happen, sharing the hidden stories of our history-rich building. We’ve also been raising funds with a sponsored run at the Eden project and fancy dress for Love Theatre Day. Recently, we joined forces with the community for a night of pure Christmas joy at Truro's Royal Cornwall Museum.
Finally, we were blown away when our local community raised £100,000 in six days for this year’s The Big Give Christmas Challenge. Thanks doesn’t begin to cover it – especially when it comes to HFC patron Alex Patrick, who donated £25,000 to the Challenge. All the money raised by the Big Give will be used to support our plans to provide a brighter future for Cornwall’s young people, through the power of performance.
The re-opening’s less than 12 months away and I know that you, like me, can’t wait to walk through our shiny new doors. We’re making sure that when you do, you’ll be coming to see our most exciting programme yet - with shows to welcome the old crowd back and shows to attract a whole new one.
Keep your eyes open for our first announcements, and look out for our open day in the new year, for a first peek at what’s to come. We can’t wait to see you all again next year.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.