RSC raises enough to restore its Stratford costume workshop

Published: 24 July 2019
Reporter: Steve Orme

Ian McKellen viewing the development of the costume workshop Credit: Sam Allard

The Royal Shakespeare Company has reached its £3 million target to restore and redevelop its costume workshop in Stratford.

Construction work will start shortly on the workshop on Waterside, opposite the Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres.

More than 30,000 people supported the RSC’s Stitch in Time fundraising campaign which began in September 2017. Funding has also come from 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. Gifts from other trusts, foundations and individuals complete the fundraising for the £8.7 million project.

The site is scheduled to reopen in summer 2020. The project will also care for the Grade II listed buildings, including the 1887 scene dock which will become a new entrance.

RSC executive director Catherine Mallyon said, “we’re delighted to have achieved our fundraising target—it’s 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 see it through tours, interactive experiences, education, participation and outreach opportunities.

“There’ll 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.”

Sir Ian McKellen, who performed on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre stages with his one-man show, has donated profits from the event to the Stitch in Time campaign.

He said, “touring the country with my solo show has been invigorating but sometimes a little depressing as I see that fewer regional theatres are mounting their own productions and making their own scenery and costumes. The RSC is a shining exception and always has been.”