What is the NT Future Supporters Mural?

The Supporters Mural is a tribute to the over 3,000 donors who have contributed £100 or more to NT Future, helping us to transform the National Theatre. Supporters’ names and dedications to others are presented together on a long mural, which is publically displayed next to the Dorfman Theatre.

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Can I still donate to appear on the Supporters Mural?

The Supporters Mural is now full but there are other naming opportunities available if you would like to make a donation to NT Future. You can still name a paving stone on the Weston Terrace for a donation of £1,000 or a seat in the Dorfman Theatre for a donation of £5,000.

As a registered charity, the National Theatre will continue to fundraise beyond the scope of NT Future. Donations and sponsorship provide a vital source of annual income for the NT in supporting the work on our three stages and far beyond.

If you would like to learn more about how you can support the National Theatre beyond NT Future, for example through one of our memberships, please click here.

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You have raised £80 million in support of NT Future. Where has this money come from?

Thanks to the generosity of Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and a number of individuals, companies and trusts and foundations we have reached our £80 million target. This is an amazing achievement which could not have happened without the support of our audiences and we are so grateful.

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

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Why did the project cost £80 million?

NT Future was a big project that touched almost every part of our building; front of house and backstage. We worked very hard to keep costs as low as possible, securing the best quotes from suppliers and contractors and focusing on areas that would 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. In 2013 we had raised £68 million and with this success in mind, we took the decision to raise the target for the NT Future Campaign to £80 million.

This increased ambition allowed us to do two things. Firstly, we were able to absorb the increased construction costs that we incurred in the first phases of the works, and pay for the removal of the unexpected quantities of asbestos discovered backstage. Secondly, we had the chance to broaden the ambition of the NT Future campaign. This was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to realise fully the potential of this building: we spent a further £5 million increasing and improving the extent of the new landscaping around the building, redeveloping our ageing 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 and with your help, we have been able to do even more.

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What’s happened to the Cottesloe?

The Cottesloe Theatre, which has been refurbished as part of our NT Future transformation project, re-opened in October 2014 as the Dorfman Theatre with improved facilities for artists and audiences.

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Who are the architects?

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

We 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.

In June 2015, the National Theatre won a RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) award for cultural buildings. This is a wonderful recognition of Haworth Tompkins thoughtful design and NT Future’s transformation of the NT. You can read the judges’ comments and find out more about the award, by clicking here.

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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 did you decide to rename the Cottesloe Theatre?

The Cottesloe Theatre, which has been refurbished as part of our NT Future transformation project, has now re-opened as the Dorfman Theatre with improved facilities for artists and audiences. Lloyd Dorfman CBE, Founder & President of Travelex and a former member of the National Theatre Board, has a longstanding relationship with 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 named the ground floor room in our new Clore Learning Centre for him.

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Why was NT Future necessary?

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 were bursting at the seams, and our outdated former infrastructure and unsuitable backstage facilities increasingly failed 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 took a toll on the theatre’s physical infrastructure.

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

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

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How long will my paving stone or seat acknowledgment last?

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

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How are you paying for your increased activity as a result of NT Future? Will you need to fundraise more?

Far from increasing our running costs, the redevelopment has given 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.

As a registered charity, the National Theatre will continue to fundraise beyond the scope of NT Future. Donations and sponsorship provide a vital source of annual income for the NT in supporting the work on our three stages and far beyond.

If you would like to learn more about how you can support the National Theatre beyond NT Future, for example through one of our memberships, please click here.

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I donated multiple times to appear on the Supporters Mural. Why are my dedications separate?

Due to the design of the Supporters Mural, we were unable to guarantee that separate donations would appear together.

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Does the Dorfman Theatre have the same flexible format as the Cottesloe Theatre did?

Yes, in fact the Dorfman Theatre has increased flexibility thanks to its brand new seating system and upgrades to stage equipment.

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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 has been 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 can 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 educational use
  • A series of technical improvements

Improvements to the Facilities (and visitor experience)

  • Much needed new foyer space
  • Increased number of toilets
  • Improved acoustics, lighting and signage
  • A lift that makes this space fully accessible for the first time

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If you are using the Dorfman auditorium for educational activity, does that mean there are fewer performances in there?

No. We use the auditorium for learning activities during the day when there is no matinee performance.

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Have you made any changes to the Olivier and Lyttelton Theatres?

Vital works have been 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 has been replaced with an automated system, which can lift the heavier pieces of scenery used in contemporary stage design, and its original hydraulic stage lifts have been updated with a modern electrical system.

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

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What activities take place in the new Clore Learning Centre?

NT Future’s new learning spaces within the National have opened up the National’s backstage areas for the first time and allow us to offer a large-scale, public learning programme. This includes 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 wider public. Find out more about NT Learning here.

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What is in the Clore Learning Centre?

The Clore Learning Centre is next to the new Dorfman Theatre and encompasses two new purpose-built education spaces:

  • The first floor Duffield Studio is a large workshop space, inspired by our backstage workshops and designed to introduce participants to different aspects of theatre production, including scene-painting, prop-making, design and costume.
  • The ground floor Cottesloe Room provides space for talks, study days and courses, archive screenings and small group workshops. The Cottesloe Room also provides spill-over foyer space and is flexible enough to allow occasional use for functions and hospitality.

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

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

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

Previously, we were unable to offer regular opportunities for active, creative learning on site – there simply wasn’t the space. Now, thanks to the new Learning Centre, there is a much more regular programme of events, workshops and courses, for all ages, including schools and young people, here at the National Theatre.

We are also 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 we have not had an appropriate space to respond to this demand until now. 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 means that participants have a chance to get much closer to the work of the NT. And holding these activities at the NT means 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 Sherling High-Level Walkway?

The refurbished Dorfman Theatre and new Clore Learning Centre are directly linked with the Max Rayne Centre by the Sherling High-Level Walkway. The walkway runs through the props workshop and the set assembly space and ends in a viewing gallery above the new set painting studio. This connection allows learning participants to access the work of the Max Rayne Centre and enables production staff and artists to deliver learning programmes in the new Clore Learning Centre. But the walkway is also an invitation to the public to come in.

The walkway is open from 9.30am - 7.30pm Monday - Saturday and is free to visit. It gives visitors unprecedented views into the work that goes on behind the scenes.

It is also the home of the Supporters Mural; an artistic tribute displaying the names of over 3,000 people who generously donated to NT Future.

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Do you offer theatre qualifications in the new Learning Centre?

We 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.

The Clore Learning Centre also offers a range of short courses and workshops designed to explore theatre and discover more about it. These courses can be enjoyed by everyone, from first time theatre-goers to seasoned experts. To see the most recent events being offered, please click here.

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What have you done about access within the foyers and the auditoria?

Automatic doors have replaced the heavy manual ones at both the main entrance and the Stage Door, while inside a new lift connects the ground floor to House Restaurant and the Wolfson Gallery in the main building.

Accessible toilets have been refurbished throughout the building, and new ones added in the Dorfman Theatre. A brand new audio description room supports our popular performances for blind and visually impaired audiences.

As part of its refurbishment, the Dorfman Theatre has also been made accessible to audiences on all levels, with improved signage, and a new lift. As a result of the lift, for the first time disabled actors can access the stage level in the theatre.

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Have you improved signage?

Yes, we designed a new signage scheme for wayfinding inside and outside the National Theatre. 

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What's happened with car parking at the NT?

The car park has been reduced in size to 270 spaces. We have found that, since the introduction of the congestion charge, demand for  car park spaces has declined and this number meets 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 has allowed the creation of better facilities for our audiences on our river front (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 needed to remove car parking from the river front.

Despite this reduction, the allocation of blue badge spaces in the NT’s underground car park has been increased to 20 spaces. These designated spaces are also larger, to allow easier transfer from cars for wheelchair users.

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Are there more ladies' toilets?

Yes, there are now more ladies' toilets in the Dorfman Theatre.

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What’s changed in the main foyers?

We’ve made several changes to the NT’s front of house spaces which will improve and enrich your audience experience. During your next visit you will notice:

  • The new glass Sackler Pavilion, creating a stylish new entrance to the NT from the river and containing a combined box office and information point plus unobtrusive ticket machines.
  • The bookshop has been redesigned and relocated to the rear of the main foyer.
  • The Mezzanine Restaurant has been refurbished and is now called House. House has a new entrance connecting it to the riverside. Opening hours are: Dinner: Monday to Saturday, 5 pm – 11pm. Sunday, closed. Lunch: Served Tuesday to Saturday when there is a scheduled matinee performance. You can now also book for afternoon tea.
  • Kitchen, our new riverside café and The Understudy, our new corner bar have been created on the north-east corner of the building by relocating the service yard and the waste and goods facilities.
  • Increased and improved seating in the Dorfman.
  • The relocation of the Long Bar to the corner of the foyer, replacing the former café.
  • The closure of the Lyttelton Café now that Kitchen, the new riverside café is open.
  • The refurbishment of all front of house bars.
  • The removal of the Concert Pitch to create more space in the ground floor foyer
  • A new Priority Lift next to Kitchen, which runs up to the Wolfson Gallery, improving access for wheelchair users.

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What type of acknowledgement am I allowed to use for naming seats and paving stones?

Acknowledgements must contain a maximum of 30 characters (including spaces). We are not able to accept dates, symbols (e.g. hearts) or any messages (poems or quotes); however, we are able to use the term ‘In memory of...’ providing your full dedication does not exceed the 30 character limit.

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: ‘John Smith’ or ‘Mr & Mrs Smith’.

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

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Have ticket prices gone up in order to pay for NT Future?

NT Future is funded by gifts from a number of individuals, companies and trusts and foundations. We review ticket prices each year, and from time to time there are price increases in line with inflation. However we have not increased tickets in order to cover the costs of NT Future. Until recently, there was the option to donate to NT Future when purchasing tickets through our website or over the phone; however, this was voluntary and the amount was at the ticket buyer’s discretion.

It is still possible to add a ticket donation to your order, which supports the National Theatre’s mission to make the very best theatre and share it with as many people as possible. For more information visit nationaltheatre.org.uk/support-us

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