A major redevelopment of the Orchard Theatre, Dartford will take place this summer, led by venue operator HQ Theatres.
The project – initially funded by Dartford Borough Council and off-set by future reductions in the annual management-fee paid to HQ – will significantly enhance the customer experience; allow the venue to widen the range of shows and events on offer; bring access arrangements at the theatre up to modern standards and improve energy-efficiency.
The £500,000 plan will see the entire auditorium stripped back, with brand-new seats installed in all areas of the auditorium.
A reconfiguration of the seating layout will improve sightlines as well as increasing the capacity at the theatre to 1025.
The plans will also deliver extra spaces in the auditorium for customers with access requirements.
Brand-new motorized seating will be installed in the flat-floor area enabling the theatre to transition easily between seated and flatfloor events – in turn offering greater flexibility to visiting producers. The improvements will also allow a wider range of shows and events to be presented to Dartford audiences.
Alongside the seating replacement and seat-plan reconfiguration other significant redevelopments to be undertaken include:
* Installation of brand new house and auditorium lighting throughout the venue to improve energy efficiency;
* Reconfiguration and enhancement of the in-house sound system to improve audibility and to offer improved infra-red andaudio-description facilities;
* Upgrades to the building power supply to facilitate state-of-the-art lighting equipment;
* Installation of brand-new Robo-Spot follow-spot equipment, reducing the need for follow spots to be located within the auditorium and improving working conditions for operators;
* New carpets will be installed and cosmetic and decorative enhancements will be completed throughout the auditorium and foyer spaces.
HQ Theatres will project-manage the redevelopment. In developing the plans the company has been working alongside a range of partners and suppliers including seating-specialists Auditoria Services, technical infrastructure experts AC Lighting and access consultancy Attitude is Everything who have advised on the access requirements.