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Opinion & Analysis

A National Theatre for 21st Century Gibraltar

This is the text of a letter from His Excellency Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, Patron The National Theatre of Gibraltar Foundation Trust.

The John Mackintosh Hall has served Gibraltar superbly since it was opened by one of my predecessors, General Sir Dudley Ward, on 8th April 1964. Today, however, it lacks the quality of facilities that our community deserves. The auditorium is small, the stage poorly equipped, the library out of date and the exhibition spaces similarly of a previous era. The cafe, in my humble opinion, serves the best coffee in Gibraltar, and the team that works there could not be friendlier or more attentive. But the staff work in a cramped kitchen, and there is little space overall for the guests. In summary, and with the greatest respect to the distinct architecture of its time, the John Mackintosh Hall is tired and needs a refit.

That is exactly what the National Theatre of Gibraltar Foundation wishes to achieve. A new Cultural Hub, with a modern, comfortable auditorium, worthy of some of our larger theatrical, musical and dance productions, and a place that will attract major productions from the United Kingdom and elsewhere. A smaller studio theatre for the more ‘niche’ performances and of course for rehearsals. A much larger library and modern exhibition spaces. And a magnificent new catering offer which, I hope, will still serve the best coffee in Gibraltar!

The Foundation has already achieved so much. The building designs have received formal planning approval and a number of major benefactors have already shown their support. Ruth Parasol and Kishin Alwani have made substantial grants towards the development and other benefactors will soon be announced. We are well on the way to delivering this major new facility for 21st Century Gibraltar.

This is why the Foundation felt that the time was right to launch the ‘Buy a Seat’ initiative, so that members of our community, who do not have the means to make a grand financial gesture (although I don’t doubt that £5,000 for a seat is still a significant investment), can still be a part of this wonderful development - the community for the community. The ‘heavy lift’ funding is falling into place nicely. Now the chance arises to invite members of our community to participate as well. By purchasing one or more seats, members of the community will be investing directly in ensuring that the stage facilities are of the highest international standard. The money will go to items that can be seen from the seat purchased, not for brick work or plumbing!

I am immensely proud to be Patron of the National Theatre of Gibraltar Foundation, a non-Governmental organisation dedicated to raising the funds necessary to deliver our community with a brand new Cultural Hub and Conference Centre on the foundations of our much loved John Mackintosh Hall.

If Mr Mackintosh could be with us today, I know that he would approve of this venture and, in particular, this new initiative to seek financial support from the community he loved, and which the rejuvenated John Mackintosh Hall will serve. I hope that the ‘Buy a Seat’ scheme receives the support it so deserves, and I am grateful to the significant number of people and businesses which have already indicated their support in purchasing one or more seats. I very much hope that others will follow their lead and support this amazing initiative for our community. Further details can be found on-line at: https://www.culture.gi/news/national-theatre-foundation-seat-sponsorship-drive/

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