A letter to our generous supporters from Lisa Burger, Executive Director
As a project donor for NT Future and now Executive Director, I would like to thank you all for your support while we have undertaken the transformation of the National Theatre building.
It is seven years since we first began talking about NT Future and, during that time, you have been central to its success. Since the first gift to the campaign in 2010, over 240,000 donations and grants have been made, raising £80million for the project. From the outset, we were determined that, throughout the construction works, the theatre should remain open and the shows should go on. At the peak of the project 250 people were working on site and I would like to thank you for your patience as the various spaces closed or relocated, while work went on behind the hoardings.
It is over a century since the first Scheme and Estimates for a National Theatre by William Archer and Harley Granville Barker detailed the need for a playhouse that would transform theatre-going in Britain. Their proposal for an open and inclusive national theatre encouraged the development of a centre of theatrical excellence in which visitors would feel as comfortable in the public spaces as in the auditoria. This was the legacy adopted by National Theatre architect Sir Denys Lasdun, and his designs for the National Theatre consistently focussed on the importance of people populating the spaces he was creating. He wanted visitors to feel they were stepping from one cityscape to another – that the National Theatre building was as much a part of the landscape as the bridge and buildings around it.
When the building opened in 1976, the posters proclaimed ‘The New National Theatre is Yours’. This ethos has also been central to our vision for the transformation of the building. We’ve had the pleasure of working with award-winning architects, Haworth Tompkins, whose sensitive designs have complemented Lasdun’s original building, and I am delighted that their work was recognised by a National RIBA Award. We have now created fantastic new backstage workshops suitable for modern theatre production and opened them up so that you can see us making our props and scenery; there is more accessible space for you to enjoy the NT’s bars, cafés, foyers and terraces in greater comfort; we have improved our environmental sustainability, creating a greener National Theatre, and we have opened a wonderful new on-site learning centre with courses for people of all ages, which shares its foyers with the newly refurbished Dorfman Theatre.
We could not have done this without you and we hope that you feel as we do, that the National Theatre is yours and that you have played a large part in making it so.
National Theatre Executive Director