Redevelopment and the 21st Century
By the start of the 1990’s, the Guild had completed the first stages of renovation and, in 1992, working with the Nithsdale District Council to create a “vibrant Theatre/Arts centre as a focus for the area.”Part of this plan included the purchase of further property in Queen Street to expand the Theatre further. However, the Guild soon faced a divisive issue when the suggestion was made to transfer ownership of the Theatre from the Guild to a Trust organisation in order to secure more funding.
The debate was centred on the fact that while the Guild would be able to focus more on continuing the produce high-quality productions, there was strong opposition to “losing (our) beloved theatre to some nameless trust” and to what that would mean moving forward. This debate was settled with the eventual formation of the Dumfries Theatre Royal Trust in 2000.
The Trust, which included four prominent Guild members, was then tasked with securing the much-needed funds. Two unsuccessful bids followed and the Guild was dealt another blow when a major contributor withdrew their support in 2005. Soon after, the Guild withdrew from the Trust and made the decision to seek funding as an independent organisation. Ultimately, the Guild was able to secure funding from the Hollywood Trust in 2011, followed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland, Creative Scotland, the Robertson Trust and Dumfries and Galloway Council by 2013, with the restoration work beginning in 2014.
The redevelopment was completed in late 2015, combining the features and atmosphere of the Theatre of JM Barrie and Robert Burns with a modern glass fronted atrium and updated facilities. The redevelopment is a fitting tribute to the tenacity and determination of the Guild, and to the generosity and commitment of its funders.