Posted by Julien Boast
Last week was a momentous occasion for everyone involved with our £20m redevelopment project as we handed over the keys to the building contractors Kier to mark the formal start of the building works.
This is a key milestone in our journey to create a world class venue which will provide Cornwall with access to the very best performing arts to rival anywhere in the country, as well as creating jobs and boosting the local economy.
As we look to raise the curtain on our future, it seemed only fitting to celebrate the spirit of all the audiences, performers, directors, writers and technicians who have made the magic happen over the last 20 years by staging a very special key handover event.
Our celebration was led by members of our Youth Theatre and Dance groups who gave a series of specially devised performances as guests were taken on a tour of the theatre for the final time. The building’s history and heritage were celebrated by all; one young person performed a poem he had written about the secrets contained backstage, the builders (aka our youth theatre in disguise!) animated the auditorium’s fascinating 20 year history and a team of youth dancers performed a celebratory dance to mark the end of this extraordinary era. All those taking part did an amazing job and I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this such a special evening.
Guests had a rare opportunity to access previously off-limits areas of the building, including a tour backstage and an introduction to the ‘famous’ HFC red lipstick tradition of performers kissing the walls prior to a performance. Guests were also able to see the vault door still in place within the former Flourish Café, previously the site of a police station with jail cell and an integral part of the redevelopment design proposal, as an important part of the overall fabric of the Grade II Listed building. By reuniting this part of the City Hall with the rest of the Boscawen Foyer we hope that we can celebrate much more of the building’s history with the public.
To finish up, The Suitcase Singers with performers from three Cornish choirs sang songs commissioned as part of our Heritage Lottery Funded project celebrating the achievements of famous Cornish women. These included Jenny Mopus, a song which tells the true story of Jenny Davies, an 18th century ferrywoman who rowed people from the Roseland Peninsula to Truro and whose portrait hangs in the Royal Cornwall Museum; famous Cornish rower Anne Glanville, who famously led a team of female rowers against male teams from Cornwall before repeating their achievement in France; and a song about Dolly Portreath, reported to be the last native Cornish speaker.
The evening ended with 11 year old Maisie Crick, who performed in our last HFC Christmas Show, presenting the keys to the building to Chris Couch, Kier’s Area Manager for Cornwall. Confidently carrying out her task, Maisie summed up the feelings of people across Cornwall by telling Kier “Please look after our theatre”.
Earlier in the week Cornwall Council had arranged for the iconic Drummer sculpture to be removed from Lemon Quay to protect it from damage during the construction works. With the agreement of the artist, the Drummer will spend the next two years at the Eden Project before being returned to Lemon Quay when our project is completed in 2020. The sculpture is currently in temporary storage while a suitable site is prepared at Eden.
We have worked closely with Truro BID, Kier and local businesses to create visuals for the hoardings surrounding the construction site. These will tell the story of the redevelopment alongside celebrating the building and Truro’s history and heritage visually and will be erected over the next few weeks.
Now the construction has formally begun we want to make sure that you can follow the progress of the redevelopment. We will be taking photos and film footage of the building works which we will be posting on our website and social media channels and will be working with Kier to organise a series of hard hat tours, open days and events. We look forward to welcoming you to see our progress soon.