THEATRE bosses have raised the curtain on a major fundraising drive.

The Eastgate Theatre secured cash to develop design plans earlier this winter for increasing the footprint of the building and improving its facilities.

And preparations are taking place to submit applications to the Big Lottery Fund and other potential funders to bring investment of over £1.5 million into Peebles.

To attract the substantial funding required, the theatre has carried out extensive consultation with groups and individuals across the region, which has produced many statements of support.

And bosses are now launching a campaign to raise £50,000 towards the overall costs of the ambitious development proposal.

Eastgate general manager Caroline Adam told us: "This fundraising campaign is about building on a very real success.

"The Eastgate is already the busiest arts venue in the Borders, and upgrading the facilities here will provide greater capacity and more flexible space to serve the needs of the growing population of Tweeddale now and in the future.”

With record attendances across more than 200 events staged in the main auditorium and studio over the past year, plus growing attendance figures for classes across a variety of arts disciplines and age ranges, the theatre has never been busier.

But the growth in demand has put pressure on the building, highlighting areas where its lack of space and flexibility limit the theatre’s effectiveness to deliver the kind of experience it would like for more than 50,000 users each year.

Eastgate director Estella Abraham is leading the fundraising drive, which includes a ceilidh at the Tontine Hotel in January, a celebration of the music of Simon and Garfunkel in February, and a tasting of craft gin, in partnership with Villeneuve Wines in March.

Estella said: "It is wonderful to be part of the Eastgate team at this exciting time in the history of the theatre.

“£50,000 is a challenging fundraising target, particularly when there are many calls on the generosity of individuals and companies, but if we can achieve it we could bring £1.5 million into the town, make the theatre accessible to many more people, and secure its future as a key community asset for many years to come.”

To donate, and to find out more about the planned expansion, visit the Eastgate Theatre & Arts Centre’s JustGiving page at