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Ambassador Theatre Group makes 15 million pound investment in capital projects

Millions ploughed into capital projects to enhance the customer experience

Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) has today announced details of how it is investing £15 million into capital projects which includes a major overhaul of the company’s Front of House areas, bars and toilets, in order to improve facilities for customers.

The company has unveiled five refurbished luxury bars that have been redesigned by ATG’s interior designer, George Couyas, to capture some of the Group’s beautiful, unique theatre architecture with an elegant, modern twist. These include the Piano Bar at the Piccadilly, the Moonlight Bar at the Harold Pinter, the Apollo Victoria’s Elixir Bar, the Terrace Bar at the Duke of York’s and the Piano Bar at the New Wimbledon. Further rollout is planned for Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Milton Keynes and the Lyceum in London. 

The Front of House investment is heavily supported by an ambitious customer service programme, Be a Star and the introduction of exciting new product ranges.

'It all comes down to our company vision statement, Making Theatre Magic,' says ATG’s Managing Director of Venues, Nick Potter. 'Enhancing the theatrical experience for our customers is about ensuring that every visit is a special occasion. We are creating these incredible spaces where our customers can relax in a totally unique and comfortable setting.'

David Blyth, ATG’s Property Director, says, 'The development of our Front of House areas is the latest chapter in an extensive ongoing ATG restoration programme where our overall aim is to dramatically increase the customer experience and preserve our beautiful, historic buildings for future generations.'

The Harold Pinter Theatre not only underwent a name change but has benefited from a £550,000 makeover and the fabulous new Moonlight Bar. Auditorium refurbishment included repairs to the decorative plaster, new carpets and a project including the strengthening of the grid and installation of a double purchase flying system. The Duke of York’s also benefitted from technical improvements, improving the facilities for Producers and technical staff.

Working closely with Foster Wilson Architects, John Muir and Conisbee Structural Engineers a £500,000 refurbishment of the Fortune Theatre was carried out including major repairs to the concrete façade, repairs to the existing leadwork, windows and roofing, reinstatement of the original canopy, new show and theatre signage and new LED coloured lighting designed by Hoare Lea Lighting.

Again working with Foster Wilson Architects and John Muir, other ATG West End capital projects have included a £300,000 restoration of the Charing Cross Road façade of the Grade II listed Phoenix Theatre, including the reinstatement of the original canopy, replacement signage and new lighting on both facades of the theatre, also designed by Hoare Lea Lighting, to enhance the visibility of the theatre at night.

The Piccadilly Theatre underwent an extensive £150,000 refurbishment which involved the redecoration and restoration of the original colour schemes, enhancement of the theatre’s original features using modern technology and the development of the Piano Bar in the Royal Circle.

The Apollo Victoria has undergone a major Foyer refurbishment and there has been considerable investment at Trafalgar Studios to ensure wheelchair access to both studio spaces.

In 2011, ATG became the first theatre company in the world to install the new ProBax ergonomic seating at its Fortune Theatre in Covent Garden. The innovative Probax seats (also used in Lotus cars and currently under development with leading car companies and aircraft makers worldwide) dramatically increase the comfort experience for the user because they encourage an anatomically correct posture in the seat occupant. Added health benefits from the seats include reduced back ache and muscle fatigue, improved circulation and respiratory flow and higher concentration levels. The plan is to roll out the ProBax seats across all of ATG’s 39 UK venues.

ATG currently has over 1,200 toilet cubicles for audience use across the Group’s 39 venues, plus another 200 back stage for artists. The company has embarked on a project of upgrading and refurbishing and where it is possible, increasing the number of facilities. This year ATG has installed a new set of male and female toilets at the Bristol Hippodrome to complement the Piano Bar. Further improvements and upgrades have taken place at Trafalgar Studios, Richmond Theatre, Playhouse Theatre (London) and the Fortune Theatre.

In the Regions, a new tea room and café, The Parlour, was introduced at Theatre Royal Brighton, in Manchester the exterior of the Opera House underwent a £500,000 refurbishment and the Revue Bar at the Palace Theatre was redeveloped, a new Box Office was installed at the Bristol Hippodrome costing £80,000 and the New Theatre Oxford saw a £250,000 investment to transform its Front of House and Box Office areas. The next project earmarked in the regions in the replacement of the pavement outside the Edinburgh Playhouse costing £95,000.

Upcoming West End projects include replacement of the A/C units at the Lyceum at £175,000 to improve customer comfort, installation of a new roof at the Fortune costing £100,000 and replacement of the seats at the Harold Pinter costing £150,000.

Co-founded by Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire in 1992, the Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd (ATG) is the largest owner/operator of theatres in the UK with 39 venues and an internationally recognised theatre producer and a leader in theatre ticketing services through ATG Tickets.

Current and recent ATG co-productions include Posh/Jumpy/Constellations (Royal Court at the Duke of York’s), South Pacific, All New People, Dandy Dick, Blue/Orange, Ghost the Musical, 9 to 5 the Musical, Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!, Legally Blonde the Musical, Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Misanthrope, West Side Story, Elling, Guys and Dolls, The Mountaintop, Exit the King and The Rocky Horror Show.