Rebuilding the Little Theatre

In 1998 the Little Theatre was in great need of refurbishment. Our old lighting system was a danger to members and public, frequently breaking down and switching on and off at random.

We applied for a grant for new equipment for which there had to be a survey carried out. This survey established that the main outside wall of the theatre was ‘bulging’ slightly and would get worse with an estimate of 5 more years before it became dangerous. Wiring the walls together would only be a temporary solution so we had to look at other options

Adapting another building or building on a brand-new site, would cost about £2,000,000 and even with 75% Lottery funding we would still have to raise £500,000 being our share. Only option was to rebuild on our present site. Frances got to work and was invaluable in all her endeavours to secure the funding to go ahead.

Our architect, Andy Bruce of Hurd Rolland carefully planned the building to suit the fishertown Conservation Area with various projections to the building rather than a single solid block. This added to the cost of the theatre and various objections were raised from surrounding residents which we endeavoured to address as and when they arose.

The cost was (to us) enormous – nearly half a million pounds. We had a lot to learn on the financial side of things – never having dealt with these sums before. We had (and still have) good accountants Johnston Carmichael which our treasurer, Sandra worked for and they helped enormously with all the ‘learning curves’ we had to ascend. We had to become a Limited Company and register for VAT.

The Scottish Arts Council (Lottery) granted us 75%, the Inverness & Nairn Enterprise, the Davidson (Nairn) Charitable Trust, Highland Region and Lloyds’ TSB gave us amazingly generous donations. Several local firms and people sponsored us. With our own savings at last we had enough to proceed.

Our new theatre took a year and a half to complete and opened in October 2004. Members were absolutely delighted with the theatre because now we had:

Front of the little theatre

  • Raked, retractable seating
  • Fairly sound-proofed dressing-rooms
  • A workroom
  • State-of-the-art (in 2004) projection, light and sound control systems
  • Air conditioning
  • A clean, modern coffee bar and an upper seating area, the Balcony Bar
  • More space back-stage
  • An induction loop system for hard of hearing patrons
  • In-house storage for our huge collection of costumes and props
  • A lift to enable disabled or infirm access to all floors
  • Wheelchair access to all areas of the theatre
  • A high enough ceiling for back-drop rollers and lights