Cambridge Arts Theatre has received a £16 million donation from Lord David and Dame Susie Sainsbury's Gatsby Charitable Foundation.

The funds have been granted to support the first phase of a vast redevelopment project at the theatre.

This major transformation will include a total restoration of the auditorium, along with improved audience facilities, upgraded technical services, and enhancements to sight lines and acoustic performance.

The project's ultimate goal is to allow the theatre - which is an independent charity - to create more in-house performances and continue to present top-quality touring productions.

Lord David Sainsbury said: "The Cambridge Arts Theatre sits at the very heart of Cambridge’s rich cultural heritage, and the careers of many of our finest actors and directors of both stage and screen have started at the Cambridge Arts Theatre.

"We were first alerted to the need for wholesale refurbishment at the theatre by Sir Ian McKellen during the tour of his one-man show.

"He made his own acting debut at Cambridge Arts Theatre in 1959, and we are delighted to make the donation today."

This significant donation also marks the start of a fundraising campaign to construct a 200-seat, fully equipped studio theatre on the roof of the existing building.

This new space will open room for a second stream of productions, expanding the reach of the theatre in the community.

The plans for the ambitious renovations have built upon the original vision of John Maynard Keynes, who funded Cambridge Arts Theatre's construction in 1936.


The redesigns will allow for the addition of a new space once the necessary funds are raised.

Cambridge Arts Theatre's CEO, Dave Murphy, said: "Thanks to this extraordinarily generous gift from the Gatsby Foundation, the theatre is now at the dawn of a new era.

"I am very proud of the part I have played in formulating the plans for the new incarnation of the theatre and helping secure this transformational gift to enable the works to begin.

"On behalf of all us at the venue, I want to thank the Gatsby Foundation for their generosity and belief in Cambridge Arts Theatre."