An Aberdeen arts venue has unveiled the first images of how a planned £260,000 revamp will look.
Aberdeen Arts Centre wants to refurbish its cafe area, as well as add a disabled ramp to the front of the King Street building and an interior lift to improve accessibility.
Bosses at the venue hope the cafe will be a source of revenue, allowing them to rely less on council funding in the future.
Stakeholders were given a sneak peek of the proposals at a meeting yesterday.
Funding has already been secured for the disability ramp, through an anonymous donation made by a generous benefactor who left a bequest in their will.
The £43,000 donation has been ring-fenced specifically for the creation of the ramp and the lift.
If all goes to plan, the new space will also double as a performance area, with hopes that it will attract musicians and comedians to the venue.
Richard Tinto, the chairman of the arts centre, hopes the new cafe will bring an extra source of revenue.
He said: “For the cafe bar element, we think the revenue generation provides a tipping point in terms of some of the funding that we’ve relied on in the past.
“Obviously, we’re very fortunate to have the support of Aberdeen City Council and other benefactors, but we all know the wider economic picture.
“We feel it’s our responsibilty to move our own future forward and to keep it in our own hands.
“That’s probably equally important as it is for us to offer up the cafe to a wider realm of acts, such as musicians and comedians who would aspire to be in that space.
“Right now it’s not the most aspirational space and we hope that it will become a venue of choice over others.”
Off the back of the refurbishment, Mr Tinto hopes the Arts Centre will “not only survive, but thrive”.
The cash injection for the venue could bring with it a boost in funding for some of the groups run out of the centre, according to the chairman, who also owns Bridge of Don-based Tinto Architecture.
He said: “We want to be an organisation that can not only survive in the long term, but can reinvest in some of the creative learning projects, even expanding them.
“We want to be able to give kids who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to do something creative to come along and experience this for free.
“We would like to be able to give them a glimmer of hope that they can find their way to the stage, to the mixing desk or to a musical instrument and they can perform.
“That could be the first glimpse for them and it might not even be on their radar at the minute.
“If we can carry off this refurb and put any surplus back into opening up that experience to city children from pre-school age all the way up until secondary school that might like to try out any creative experience.”
Mr Tinto hopes adding accessibility to the centre will improve the experience of disabled people who use the venue.
He said: “It’s going to allow people to come in the front door. It doesn’t sound a lot but it’s really important in 2019.
“They’ll be able get to the foyer from outside and then up to the auditorium in a custom-built lift.”
As part of their fundraising effort, staff at the centre have planned a special theatre-based ball to be held in May. The Amayzing Ball – brainchild of trustee Anne Iravani – will be held at the Marcliffe on May 24.
Each table will be themed after a different musical and guests are being urged to dress up as a character from the show.
Richard hopes that not only will the ball bring in much-needed cash for the project, but could provide much-needed funding going forward.
He said: “It’s important for us on a couple of levels.
“For a start, it’s cash into the kitty for the investment to begin, but a recurring revenue that something like an annual ball can bring to something like us can’t really be articulated.
“If we can build on this year and get a bit of traction, I really think it could become one of the two or three dates in the Aberdeen calendar that are widely known.”
There is no current timetable for the beginning or the completion of the refurbishment project.