• Phase 2 Feasibility Study - Final Report

    We are pleased to announce that the final report from phase 2 of the feasibility study has been published.
    It found that the building could partially reopen in the next few years, after completion of urgent works.
    The full report is available from City of Doncaster Council's website, here.

  • Oral History and Digitisation Project

    In February 2023, the Friends of Doncaster Grand Theatre (Friends) made an application to Theatres Trust for grant funding, to carry out an “Oral History and Digitisation” project, effectively to capture memories of the Grand Theatre for posterity. On 11 April, we learned that we had been successful with our application and were awarded £6500 for a project that will be carried out during the coming year.

    Project Team

    On 10 May, the first meeting was held of a group set up to manage this piece of work, with Scott Cardwell, an Assistant Director at our City Council in the chair. He also leads the Feasibility Study working group, with the Friends full support for this project being managed as part of that wider work. Several of his colleagues will also be involved, including representatives from Doncaster Archives, as well as Sian Eagar from Theatres Trust, who will help guide us. Ian Sunderland and Ken Waight represented the Friends. A Project Manager has been appointed and she is now drawing up a structure for this piece of work.

    Oral History

    As part of the application, we had suggested that the project should involve recording memories of individuals who remember the Grand as a working theatre. People who maybe worked, helped out or simply attended performances there. What was it like as a working theatre? We expect that recordings will be made of individual thoughts and memories, perhaps a “talking heads” scenario, involving several people.


    The other part of this project is for scanning and photographing, effectively “digitising” many of the artefacts and memorabilia relating to the Grand Theatre that remain available. We are after tangible memories available for a digitiser/videographer to capture.

    It is hoped that as part of proposed “meanwhile” use for the Grand Theatre, whilst renovation takes place, there can be an exhibition or display open to the public and maybe even a viewing area into the Grand, to see restoration work actually taking place. All the digitised memories, both oral and tangible can then be played and displayed for everyone to see and experience.

    Ken Waight


    Friends of Doncaster Grand Theatre

  • Friends receive £6.5k grant for digitisation

    The Friends of Doncaster Grand Theatre have been awarded £6500 as part of a project to help remember the Grand Theatre as a working theatre.

    The aim of the project will see individuals record their memories of the theatre, whilst separately, appropriate work will be done to digitalise many of the old artefacts and memorabilia associated with the Grade II listed building.

    Doncaster Grand Theatre was just one of seven theatres to receive funding though the first round of the Resilient Theatres: Resilient Communities Grants Programme, a funding programme run by the Theatres Trust, the national advisory body for theatres, set up to help progress the restoration, reopening or revitalisation of At Risk Theatres.

    The Resilient Theatres: Resilient Communities programme is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and Swire Charitable Trust.

    Cllr Nigel Ball, Cabinet member for Public Health, Leisure, Culture and Planning, said: “It is testament to the hard work of those both involved in the process of the bid, and those working to remember the theatre, that this funding has been successful at this stage. My congratulations go to everyone involved and I look forward to seeing all the artefacts and memorabilia brought to life on the many digital platforms available.”

    Ken Waight, Chair of the Friends of Doncaster Grand Theatre said: “This is excellent news for all those involved in helping to preserve the Grand, for the coming years. We have many artefacts, including programmes and posters from past productions, even a document relating to the theatre’s construction in 1899 and their digitisation will ensure they can be made more widely available for viewing in the community. Recording individuals’ memories of what the theatre was like in its prime will also be an essential part of taking the theatre forward.”

    Theatres Trust Director Jon Morgan said: “We believe every theatre on our Theatres at Risk list has the potential to be returned for use by their communities, providing performance venues of types currently lacking in their local areas and bringing much needed footfall to town centres. Theatres Trust is delighted to support Doncaster Grand Theatre with this project that will help it move a step closer to its ultimate goal.”

    Listed as a Grade II listed building since 1995, The Grand ceased to be a working theatre around 1960 when it was turned into a bingo hall. This later use ceased in the 1990s and it has been vacant ever since. Most recently, a working group – containing the Frenchgate Centre, Friends and City of Doncaster Council among others – has been set up to seek a viable use for the theatre.

  • Public show support for future reopening of ‘Theatre at Risk’

    A study undertaken as the first step of the project to find a possible future use for the historic Grand Theatre in Doncaster has demonstrated that there is significant public support with more than 92% of respondents1 saying they would get behind the Grand Theatre if reopened.

    An ornate Grade II listed Victorian theatre, the Grand Theatre has been closed for more than 25 years, and has been on the Theatres at Risk Register since 2006. The first phrase of a viability study was completed following a grant award from Theatres Trust, the national public advisory body for theatres, with additional match funding from Doncaster Council.

    The study also showed that there is a market for a reopened Grand Theatre to host a range of events including musicals, popular music and comedy, as well as being used as space for hire for a variety of community activities. The study did however recommend that given the scale of any restoration project it would be best to a take a phased “meantime use” approach, meaning any redevelopment would happen incrementally, tackling smaller sections of the building at a time.

    The project has brought together key parties, including the building owner Frenchgate Shopping Centre, the Friends of Doncaster Grand Theatre, Theatres Trust and Doncaster Council resulting in the formation of a Stakeholder Group, who will continue to work together to explore options for the building.

    The next step will involve commissioning further research into architectural options for the Theatre and a more detailed plan for a phased approach as to its restoration. If a viable way forward can be identified, this could then be presented to potential funders.

    Janina McBride, Theatres At Risk Adviser at Theatres Trust, comments “We believe every theatre on our Theatres at Risk list has real potential to be returned for use by their communities, so we are pleased to see that this study has concluded that there could be a market for a reopened Grand Theatre, and we look forward to continuing to support Doncaster Grand as plans progress.

    Ken Waight, Chair of Friends of Doncaster Grand Theatre, comments “The need for a Feasibility report was highlighted some years ago and now that it’s here, it offers some sensible and hopefully workable possibilities for the future of the Grand. It is realistic in what is suggested, with live theatre an important, but not exclusive element for its future. The Friends support the proposals and want to work with the other stakeholders, to help take them forward.

    Karen Staniforth, General Manager, Frenchgate Shopping Centre comments “The study has provided an essential first steps towards realising a potential long-term vision for the Future of the Grand, and the contribution this could make the new City’s Arts and Culture and economic growth. It was great to see the results of the Community survey, reporting a positive response in securing a future for the Grand.

    Cllr Nigel Ball, Cabinet member for Public Health, Leisure, Culture and Planning at Doncaster Council, said: “We know how much our residents take pride in the heritage of Doncaster – and this Theatre remains close to the heart of many who have lived in and around Doncaster for many years. It is exciting to see so many partners come together and create a real momentum behind this historic building and I look forward and support more progress being made on this project. My thanks go to all those who have been involved in the study so far.

    Doncaster Grand was one of 15 theatres to receive funding over the three years of the Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme, with the project receiving a grant for £11,500 in 2021. Run by the Theatres Trust, the programme was designed to support theatres on the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Register to commission expert advice and acquire the skills and knowledge to push forward capital projects to help save their theatres.



    To contact Doncaster Council’s media team – email communications@doncaster.gov.uk or telephone 01302 737773.

    Theatres Trust

    Theatres Trust is the national advisory public body for theatres. They believe that current and future generations should have access to good quality theatre buildings where they can be inspired by, and enjoy, live performance. They champion the future of live performance by protecting and supporting excellent theatre buildings which meet the needs of their communities. They do this by providing advice on the design, planning, development and sustainability of theatres, campaigning on behalf of theatres old and new and offering financial assistance through grants.

    Theatres at Risk Register

    The Theatres at Risk Register is published annually by the Theatres Trust to highlight and support the theatre buildings under threat across the UK. There are 41 theatres on the 2022 list, which was announced in February. Every theatre on the register has strong architectural merit or cultural heritage and the potential to be returned to its original performance use and be a real asset to its community. Since 2006 Theatres Trust has helped save more than 80 theatres on the Theatres at Risk list.

    1 92.4% of 3,785 respondents

  • Save The Date: AGM 2022

    Save the date for our first AGM in over 2 years!

    We will be holding our first AGM since 2019, having postponed the last 2 years due to the pandemic, on:

    Monday 16th May 2022, 7:30pm

    Taking place at Doncaster Little Theatre the evening will comprise of the Friends AGM followed by some light entertainment.
    The bar will be open with a range of drinks and snacks available.

    If you wish to extend your evening there are plenty of restaurants available within walking distance.
    Car parking is also available next to the theatre or within a short walk, however these are private pay and display car parks.

    All current members will be receiving their AGM invites by Email where possible (or post where required).

    Anyone wishing to attend the meeting must be a current member or accompanying a current member.
    You may join or renew on the night, however only current members who were active during the previous membership year may vote.

    If you have further queries please feel free to contact us.