Hertford Theatre - FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the redevelopment of Hertford Theatre

When will the new theatre be open?

We are working towards opening the new theatre in Spring 2024. 

Will Hertford Theatre still have a presence in the town when it is closed?

The staff at Hertford Theatre will be busy delivering activities and performances during the transformation programme. To keep up to date with what’s going on visit the Hertford Theatre website

How can I learn more about the Growth and Legacy project?

To keep up to date with progression visit the Hertford Theatre website, where you can also sign up for regular updates, and follow them on their social media (see links on their website).

What are the benefits of improving the theatre?

There are a number of benefits that the proposals will bring to the theatre and community. These include:

  • Three bespoke, first release cinema screens with capacities of 81,85 and 54 seats, removing the need to travel to Harlow or Hatfield and diversifying Hertford’s economy.
  • Reconfiguration of the main auditorium to accommodate additional seating and new dress circle level.
  • Enhanced facilities and improved technical specification of the main auditorium will allow bigger and better performances, and make the venue attractive for larger productions, including West End shows on UK tours.  It will also allow for more independent productions and a programme of self / community curated productions.
  • Provide more community space for use throughout the day and evening.
  • Improved facilities will enhance the visitor experience.

What facilities will be provided for disabled customers in the new building?

Making Hertford Theatre accessible for all is key to the development of the new building. We are working closely with the design team to improve accessibility across the board and provide new accessible facilities for our customers, performers and staff. 

Visitor accessibility includes:

  • new Auditorium and Studio Theatre layouts
  • new front-of-house toilets and accessible baby change room
  • two new accessible toilets (one on ground floor; the other on first floor)
  • fully managed Changing Places facility for those with significant access and mobility requirements – which will be open to Town Centre visitors needing to use such facilities.
  • two new passenger lifts 

Performer facilities:
Access consultants David Bonnett Associates are part of the team, improvements to performer facilities include:

  • step-free access to the Auditorium and Studio Theatre stages
  • new wheelchair-accessible performer toilet and shower facilities
  • stage-level accessible dressing rooms. 
  • Accessible technical operations room

How will the development be sustainable?

Works undertaken by the architect demonstrate we are in the in top echelon for new build sustainable theatre standards.  A paper was presented to The Theatres Trust conference  referencing Hertford Theatre as an exemplar.  

Examples of sustainable aspects of the development include:

  • Fabrics that minimise heat loss
  • No use of gas in the new building
  • Improved energy management systems
  • Sustainable construction materials
  • Considerate Constructors scheme enforcing waste minimisation and recycling
  • Significantly reduced energy consumption

Will the size of the stage in the main auditorium increase?

The stage itself will not increase in size but the stage house is being remodelled to increase its seating capacity and improve accessibility for visitors, performers and production crews.  

What will the impact of the changes be on acoustics in the auditorium / will you be improving acoustics in the auditorium?

As part of the proposals the auditorium will go through a significant transformation. We are working with an acoustician as part of our consultant team to provide a high level of experience for performers and visitors. The theatre currently delivers a diverse programme of events that have different acoustic requirements. The proposals seek to accommodate as many of these different needs as possible. 

What space will be available for the community?

We will be providing two separate spaces for community use and hire. The development of the main auditorium also means that we will be able to deliver these community spaces offline, unaffected by the internal programme, meaning that hirers will be able to use these spaces, uninterrupted throughout the year.
Details of the new community spaces and how to hire them will be published on the Hertford Theatre website. 

How much will the new theatre cost?

Funding of £24m was agreed at Full Council in March 2022 to cover the cost of the new theatre.  One of the key aims of the project is to ensure that, in the long-term, the theatre becomes economically self-sufficient.
How is the new theatre being paid for?
The theatre is being funded by a Government loan which will be repaid in full over a 30-year period.

How does the new theatre represent value for money?

Considerable work has been done to understand the demand for the new and improved services that the new theatre will provide. This work demonstrates that there will be a good return on investment and that the theatre will be able to move from the current position, of receiving a subsidy from the Council, to one of producing a surplus, becoming a self-sustaining operation and providing a legacy income for the Council. We also expect the new offer to contribute positively to both the day and nigh-time wider economy in Hertford. 
The redevelopment will bring increased capacity and increased footfall that will deliver economic benefits, not just for the theatre itself, but to boost Hertford Town Centre’s economy also by encouraging additional visitors to use shops, restaurants and hotels etc.

Will prices go up when the new theatre opens?

Some prices will increase to reflect the new and improved offer – though we will always make sure the price increases are as low as possible and always in line with other market offers. Because we will be able to offer dynamic pricing, some prices will also go down, for example, for certain performances at certain times of day. We want to ensure that Hertford Theatre remains competitive and financially accessible for all members of the community.

Is the business case robust?

The business case has been developed independently by expert business planners working closely with independent cost consultants to produce a robust and prudent business case that allows room for flex and we are confident in our ability to deliver it.

Does the money being invested in Hertford Theatre mean that the council won’t be able to invest in other projects across the District?

No. The money being invested in Hertford Theatre is based on the business case for the project and is being funded, in full, by a public works loan that will be repaid in full over a 30-year period. This funding does not impact upon the council’s ability to fund any other projects across the District. Funding for projects is assessed on a case-by-case basis according to each individual projects business case.