At last some good funding news! The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham has been awarded a £500,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help restore the theatre auditorium.

Chief Executive of the Everyman Theatre, Geoffrey Rowe said: "This is fantastic news. We now have the money for the auditorium and the grant brings us really close to fully funding a splendid restoration of the theatre"

Currently just £250,000 short of the £3 million needed to undertake the restoration the Everyman has launched a public fundraising campaign and an appeal for sponsorship from local companies to meet the shortfall.

The work will be carried out in the Summer of 2011 and the theatre will close for 17 weeks. The scheme will restore the plasterwork and historic fabric of the auditorium and improve the front of house areas. New seating, carpets and curtains will be added, as well as bringing the dress circle boxes back into use.

Associated with the restoration will be a three year education and community programme, based on the Victorian period and the theatre's heritage.

Nerys Watts, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: "The wonderful Everyman is the earliest surviving theatre designed by Frank Matcham, and remains a testament to his talent and vision. Thanks to this HLF grant the auditorium will be restored to original condition and audience seating will be replaced. At the same time, guided tours of the theatre will be introduced and the theatre will be developing activity packs for local schools, so more people have the chance to explore and learn about this heritage treasure."