FAQS

You have raised over £68 million in support of NT Future so far, where has this money come from?

Thanks to the generosity of the Arts Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and a number of individuals, trusts and foundations we have raised over £68 million in support of NT Future.

The National Theatre has contributed £7.5 million to support NT Future. Most of this comes from our profits from War Horse.

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Why does the project cost £80 million?

NT Future is a big project which touches almost every part of our building; front of house and backstage.  We have worked very hard to keep costs as low as possible, securing the best quotes from suppliers and contractors and focusing on things that we can do that will have the maximum impact on artists and audiences.

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Has the project cost changed?

When NT Future was first launched, we hoped to raise £70 million to make the project possible. Fundraising for NT Future is going extremely well with our total fundraising over £68 million.

With this success in mind, we took the decision to raise the target for the NT Future Campaign to £80 million.  This increased ambition will allow us to do two things.  Firstly, we will be able to absorb the increased construction costs that we have experienced in the first phases of the works, and to pay for the removal of the unexpected quantities of asbestos discovered backstage.  Secondly, with the builders already on site, we have the chance to broaden the ambition of the NT Future campaign.  This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fully realise the potential of this building: we will spend a further £5 million increasing and improving the extent of the new landscaping around the building, redeveloping our aging dressing room block, overhauling and updating our IT systems, and refurbishing our Olivier foyers and toilets.  Thanks to the success of the NT Future campaign, we will be able to do even more with your help.

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You’ve obviously already started some of the work. Is everything going on budget and on time?

Currently everything is on schedule and on budget.

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When is the project going to finish?

As long as fundraising continues as we hope, the work will be completed by the end of 2014.

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Will the Cottesloe close while it is being refurbished? What happens with performances when is it closed?

From February 2013, the Cottesloe Theatre will be refurbished as part of our NT Future transformation project, re-opening in spring 2014 as the Dorfman Theatre with improved facilities for our audiences.

From April 2013, we will open The Shed, a temporary performance space at the front of the building during the Cottesloe’s closure. Celebrating new theatre that is adventurous, ambitious and challenging, the programme will feature a mix of emerging and established artists, visitors from around the world and a range of unexpected collaborations.

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Who are the architects?

The National Theatre appointed Haworth Tompkins as our project architects. Haworth Tompkins were responsible for the development of the National Theatre Studio.

We have consulted widely with neighbouring organisations on the South Bank and the local residents; with English Heritage, the Twentieth Century Society and the Theatres Trust; with members of staff and the NT's artistic community; and with our audience.

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How does NT Future respond to the National’s external environment while thinking carefully about its current and future needs?

When our architects, Haworth Tompkins, were working on a Conservation Management Plan for the National Theatre they made sure to balance the current needs of our Grade II* listed building while making it fit for the 21st century. They assessed the architectural significance of the site and provided a framework for any changes to the building. The plan concluded that there was a current material risk to the Theatre's infrastructure which could not be addressed via annual capital funds.

From this, the architects developed a Masterplan to address the problems of the aging building combined with our ambitions for the future: ensuring we improve our artist facilities, engage more people, and make the National Theatre environmentally and financially sustainable.

This cost-effective scheme was created whilst consulting with neighbouring organisations on the South Bank and local residents; with English Heritage, the Twentieth Century Society and the Theatres Trust; with members of staff and the NT's artistic community; and with our audience. The plan was widely approved by these groups and granted planning consent by Lambeth Council on 29 September 2010.

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Why have you decided to rename the Cottesloe Theatre?

From February 2013, the Cottesloe Theatre will be refurbished as part of our NT Future transformation project, re-opening in spring 2014 as the Dorfman Theatre with improved facilities for our audiences.

Lloyd Dorfman CBE, Founder and Chairman of Travelex and member of the National Theatre Board, has a longstanding relationship and commitment to the National Theatre. His exceptional gift of £10 million – the largest donation ever made to a theatre in the UK – will further the National’s determination and ability to thrive in the coming years. We hope it will also act as a spur and inspiration to other philanthropists, as a powerful demonstration of faith in the performing arts.

Lady Cottesloe was consulted from the very beginning and knowing our aims was very supportive of the move.

We wanted to find a way to continue to honour Lord Cottesloe (Chairman of the South Bank Theatre Board), and as such we have decided that we will name the ground floor room in our new Learning Centre after Lord Cottesloe.

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Why should I support NT Future?

The National Theatre has not been comprehensively redeveloped since it opened in 1976 and much has changed on the South Bank and in the theatre industry in the years since then.

The riverside walkway now brings 12 million people past the NT's door each year, offering the potential to engage and welcome this wider public. Our creative workspaces located on-site are bursting at the seams, and our outdated infrastructure and unsuitable backstage facilities increasingly fail to meet the needs of artists.

The exponential developments in lighting, sound and video that came with the digital age couldn't have been envisaged at the time the NT was built. There has also been a dramatic increase in both audiences and creative output over the years since opening, which has taken a toll on the physical infrastructure.

We have no dedicated learning space on-site, limiting the amount of people who can participate in our work and the type of engagement they can have. Our home was also built at a time when energy was cheap and without environmental consideration.

Through NT Future we will be able respond to this context and transform the NT to secure it for future generations.

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How can I support the project?

We can only transform your national theatre with your help. Your donation, large or small, will help us reach our goal.

There are a number of ways to get involved and support the project. Click here to learn more.
 

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When do you need all the money by?

We have asked for all pledges to be fulfilled by autumn 2014. We have allowed for some larger gifts to be paid over several years which exceed this deadline.

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Can I support by paying via Direct Debit?

Absolutely, please call the Development Department on 020 7452 3916 to set up a Direct Debit.

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How long will my paving stone/seat acknowledgment last?

Inscriptions will be in place from April 2014 for a period of no less than 15 years. 

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How will you pay for your increased activity? Will you need to fundraise more?

Far from increasing our running costs, the redevelopment will actually give us the opportunity to earn an extra £1 million each year.

We’ll earn the extra £1 million from having more seats in the new Dorfman Theatre, from new catering facilities and an improved shop, and by using 20% less energy.

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Can I have my name next to my Friends/Family on the Supporters Mural?

We cannot acknowledge separate donations together on the Supporters Mural.

If you are sending one donation and want to have two names listed as part of this donation, both names would need to fit within the 30 characters (including spaces) limit per acknowledgment.

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When the Dorfman Theatre opens, will it have the same flexible format as the Cottesloe Theatre did?

Yes, it will have increased flexibility.

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Will there be any changes to ticket availability?

NT Future is about making the NT more accommodating for current and future audiences.  The Dorfman Theatre will be fitted with additional seating, allowing 27,000 more people a year to access what are often sold-out performances.

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What improvements will audiences see in the Dorfman Theatre?

Improvements to the Auditorium

  • Additional seating
  • Newer and more comfortable seating
  • Refurbished balconies with improved sightlines
  • Allowance for even more flexible seating configurations
  • New seating system that allows for quick changes to a flat floor, thus equipping the auditorium for daytime education use
  • A series of technical improvements

Improvements to the Facilities (and visitor experience)

  • Creating much needed new foyer space
  • Increasing the number of toilets
  • Improving acoustics, lighting and signage
  • Installing a lift that will make the Dorfman fully accessible for the first time

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If you are going to use the Dorfman Auditorium for education activity, does that mean there will be fewer performances in the Dorfman Theatre?

No.  We will use the auditorium for learning activities during the day, when it would otherwise be empty. 

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Are you making changes to the Olivier and Lyttelton Theatres?

Vital works will be carried out on stage equipment in the Lyttelton and Olivier Theatres to better equip them for the technical demands of modern productions and meet the ambitions of designers and directors.

The Lyttelton’s manual flying equipment will be replaced with an automated system, which can lift the heavier pieces of scenery used in contemporary stage design, and its original hydraulic stage lifts will be updated with a modern electrical system.

In the Olivier Theatre, the original power-flying system will be refurbished, and over-stage lighting equipment replaced to enable lighting designers to create even more dazzling schemes.

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The National Theatre is building a new Learning Centre - what are you going to do in it?

NT Future will create new learning spaces within the National, for the first time opening up the National’s backstage areas and allowing us to offer a large-scale, public learning programme. These will include regular events for families and young people, extensive programmes for schools and teachers, and courses and activities for adult learners, opening up theatre and theatre-making to a wide public.

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What is in The Clore Learning Centre?

The Clore Learning Centre will encompass two new purpose-built education spaces:

o The first floor Duffield Studio will be a large workshop space, inspired by our backstage workshops and designed to introduce participants to different aspects of theatre production, including scene-painting, props-making, design and costume

o The ground floor Cottesloe Room will provide space for talks, study days and courses, archive screenings and small group workshops..The Cottesloe Room can also provide spill-over foyer space and will be flexible enough to allow occasional use for functions and hospitality.  

The new first floor mezzanine level created in the Dorfman Theatre foyer will provide break-out space for the Learning Centre.

Refurbishments in the Dorfman auditorium also will equip it for daytime education use. 

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What difference will it make to the NT having a Learning Centre on site?

Currently, we can’t offer regular opportunities for active, creative learning on site – there simply isn’t the space. So the main change is that there will be a much more regular programme of events, workshops and courses, for all ages, including schools and young people, here at the National Theatre. We will also be able to offer activities that open up the backstage work of the NT, for example technical theatre, scenic art, costume making, which we  know are of enormous interest to schools, young people and adults, but until we have an appropriate space, we can’t respond to this demand. Holding these activities at the NT will give our participants a different experience – the link to the high level walkway, the Dorfman Theatre and our backstage spaces, will mean that participants have a chance to get much closer to the work of the NT. And holding these activities at the NT will mean there are many more opportunities for staff and artists to get involved in the Learning programme.

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What is the purpose of the high-level walkway?

The refurbished Dorfman Theatre and Clore Learning Centre will have a direct link with the Production Centre via a high walkway running through the props workshop and the set assembly space to a gallery above the new set painting studio. This connection will allow learning participants to access the work of the Production Building, and enable production staff and artists to deliver learning programmes in the new Clore Learning Centre. But the walkway is also an invitation to the public, open whenever the Dorfman Theatre foyer is open, giving visitors unprecedented views into the work that goes on behind the scenes.

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Will you be offering theatre qualifications in the new Learning Centre?

We will work in partnership with schools, colleges and higher education institutions which themselves offer qualifications in drama and theatre. With NT Future, the National Theatre is also expanding its programme of apprenticeships, based in production and technical departments across the theatre.

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What are you doing about access within the foyers and the auditoria?

Access to the National will be improved, with automatic doors at both the main entrance and the Stage Door replacing the existing heavy manual doors, while inside a new lift will connect all the mezzanine floors in the main building.

Accessible toilets will be refurbished throughout the building, and new ones added in the Dorfman Theatre. A brand new audio description room will support our popular performances for blind and visually impaired audiences. As part of its refurbishment, the Dorfman Theatre will also be made accessible to audiences from all levels, with improved signage and, for the first time, disabled actors will be able to access the stage level in the theatre.

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Will you improve signage?

We are designing an all-new signage scheme for the foyers and outside the building.

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What's happening with car parking at the NT?

The car park will be reduced in size to 300 spaces. We have found that, since the introduction of the congestion charge, use of the car park has been in steady decline and 300 spaces would meet the demand on most nights. However, it is possible that, at weekends in particular, the car park might reach capacity and customers will be directed to other car parks (not operated by the NT) in the area.

NT Future will allow the creation of better facilities for our audiences on our river frontage (for example a new entrance pavilion, a new bar and café, and a single level pathway to the Dorfman Theatre). In order to make these changes we will need to remove car parking from the riverfront.

However, the allocation of blue badge spaces in the NT’s underground car park will be increased to 20 spaces. Also, these designated spaces will be larger, to allow easier transfer from cars for wheelchair users.

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Are you going to build more ladies' toilets?

Yes, there will be an increased number of ladies' toilets in the Dorfman Theatre.

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What are the changes that audiences will see in the main foyers?

  • A new entrance pavilion will contain a combined box office and information point plus unobtrusive ticket machines
  • Relocation of the bookshop to the rear of the main foyer
  • Relocation of the Lyttelton Café to a new location on the river front
  • Relocation of the Long Bar to the corner of the foyer, replacing the existing café
  • Refurbishing all Front of House bars
  • Refurbishing Mezzanine Restaurant and Olivier Café
  • A new riverside entrance to the Mezzanine Restaurant
  • A new riverside café and corner bar will be created on the north-east corner of the building by relocating the service yard and the waste and goods facilities to an area on the Upper Ground side of the building, getting rid of an unsightly area on our riverfront
  • Refurbished (and slightly smaller) concert pitch
  • Increased and improved seating
  • The new lift in the Olivier foyer will improve access for wheelchair users, providing lift access to the levels which are currently operated by stair lifts. The stair lifts will be removed. 

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What type of acknowledgement am I allowed to use for seats, paving stones or for the Supporters Mural?

Acknowledgements must contain a maximum of 30 characters (including spaces). We are not able to accept symbols (e.g. hearts) or any messages (poems or quotes).

We are able to include more than one name in one acknowledgement, as long as the total number of characters (including spaces) does not exceed 30.

Examples of acceptable acknowledgements for the Supporters Mural: ‘John Smith’ or ‘Mr & Mrs Smith’.

We are able to use the term ‘In memory of...’ on seats and paving stones (30 character maximum), but not on the Supporters Mural.

The word ‘and’ will appear as ‘&’ in all acknowledgments.

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Will ticket prices go up in order to pay for NT Future?

NT Future is funded by gifts from a number of individuals, trusts and foundations. We review ticket prices each year, and from time to time there are price increases in line with inflation.  However we will not increase tickets in order to cover the costs of NT Future.

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How are audiences going to be affected while the work takes place?

As NT Future works happen, the NT will remain open with a normal schedule of performances continuing.

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