Last week, Bristol Old Vic issued a statement aimed at alleviating fears for its future following last month’s surprise news that it would close on 1 August to undergo a previously unannounced 18-month, £7 million refurbishment (See News, 4 Jun 2007). But the invitation received today for the launch of the “Save Bristol Old Vic” (not Refurbish, Relaunch or Rebuild – strapline “everyone can play their part”) campaign raises new questions. “Quite simply,” reads the email accompanying the invite, “if we don’t raise the final amount of money needed to refurbish, the oldest continuously working theatre in the country will shut for good and a valuable resource for the region will disappear.” Speaking to Whatsonstage.com, an Old Vic spokesperson predicted there was “zero chance” that such a demise would come to pass. Nevertheless, the new public appeal must succeed in raising the final £2 million required for essential building work – or else… The team in Bristol are coming to London to launch the appeal in order to underline the importance of the regional producing house to the health of British theatre overall. The press event - hosted by Rupert Rhymes, chairman of the theatre’s trustees, and Nick Bacon, who’s driving the appeal committee – is being held next Wednesday 20 June in the West End in another history-steeped venue, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Several actors who’ve performed at the Old Vic over the years, including Ian McKellen, Judi Dench and [Richard Briers, have also been signed up as appeal patrons.
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