New raked seating has been installed at Skipton Town Hall, transforming the main concert hall into a theatre to showcase performances.
The seating caters for 156 people and can be folded away to the back of the hall when not in use, opening up the space for other events.
The seats were in use for the first time on Sunday (JULY 9) when Sedbergh Orchestra performed The Battle of the Somme live to a screening of the film.
The seating unit cost around £50,000 and has been funded by Arts Council England, which last year granted Craven District Council £250,000 to improve the acoustics and upgrade the equipment available in the concert hall.
Danielle Daglan, Programming & Venue Development Manager at Craven District Council, said: “We’re delighted with the new seating – this really improves the experience for audiences as it is so much easier to view the stage.
“This is a big step forward in our exciting plans for this historic building as we develop the venue into a cultural hub for Craven and beyond.”
As a temporary measure, the seating unit will be stored at the back of the hall when not in use. There are further plans to remove the old stage and install a demountable stage which will increase audience capacity and allow greater flexibility for the space. When the stage has been removed, it will then be possible to store the seating unit at the stage end of the hall.
The work to improve the performance space also includes new lighting and sound systems, digital projection broadcasting equipment, black-outs and acoustic glazed windows.
Other work taking place at Skipton Town Hall currently includes the fit-out of a restaurant on the ground floor, and the development of a flexible space at the front of the building, which will be used to provide an interval bar for performances, and will double as a flexible daytime space for workshops, meetings and events.
Over the last two years the building redevelopment has included a new side entrance, new toilets, a new boiler and the redecoration of the entrance areas, as well as work to repair the roof.
Craven Museum at Skipton Town Hall is also set to undergo a redevelopment; the museum received initial support in 2015 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a £2.1 million project which aims to provide state of the art facilities at the museum titled “Stories and Treasures of Street and Dale”.
Development funding of £98,000 was awarded and staff are currently working on an application for a full grant of £1.5 million.
For more information about performances and events at Skipton Town Hall, go to www.cravendc.gov.uk/skiptontownhall