THE Eastgate Theatre has applied for a loan from Peebles Common Good Fund to help support the theatre’s redevelopment - in case things go wrong.

The arts venue is currently seeking to upgrade its auditorium, and has already raised £440,000 towards the project, the majority of which has come through EU and charitable grants, as well as donations from members of the public.

The redevelopment will see all of the seating in the auditorium replaced or repositioned to increase space and improve the sightlines from the balconies, as well as installing new hand grabs on the aisle seats and improving the heating and ventilation systems.

The work is due to start next month, but the theatre’s trustees are worried that unforeseen costs might arise, and are seeking a loan to cover any eventuality.

Ian Jenkins, vice chair of the Eastgate Theatre, writes in the application for funding: “We are asking trustees to reconsider re-opening the common good fund’s offer of a loan in principle, of say £20,000 to £25,000, to give us resilience as we undertake a major development in the theatre.

“The Eastgate Theatre redevelopment project plans to upgrade the auditorium and make improvements to the foyer/entrance.

“Funds have been raised, and contractors have been appointed. Construction work is scheduled to begin on June 17, and to be completed by the end of August.

“The theatre will be closed for the duration of the works, though it is hoped to reopen the cafe in August.

“Budgets are in place, with provision for cash flow issues (relating to varying payment methods of particular grant funders) and contingency allowances relating to construction work.

“If all goes smoothly, we will not need to access any loan which may be made available.

“However, budgets are tight and there must be uncertainties about business interruption and reopening after a closure.

“It would therefore be of great comfort to know that we could have access to funds in the event of unforeseen difficulties arising, which would allow us to address the problem in the immediate term and have time to recover the situation over a period.”

The Eastgate Theatre has been well supported by the Peebles common good fund over the last 25 years, having received £72,600 since April 2004.

According to the theatre’s website, the aims of the Eastgate development project are “to increase access to, and participation in, the services and activities of the Eastgate Theatre by extending its capacity, physically and operationally, and by developing an expanded suite of facilities that can more effectively meet the needs and demands of the growing population of Peebles and surrounding areas, both now and for the future.

“In practical terms, this will involve some significant changes to the Eastgate. The main elements are expected to include enlarging the building’s footprint; reconfiguring the ground floor layout to create more café and studio space; upgrading the first floor auditorium by renewing the seating and improving sightlines; enhancing backstage facilities; and updating heating and lighting services throughout the building.”