Extensive refurbishment has been carried out throughout the Grade II* listed theatre restoring it back to its original condition, with major improvements to enhance the visitor experience such as new heating and air conditioning systems, toilets, flooring, seats, ceilings and lifts. In addition, a state-of-the-art lighting bridge has been installed and old electrical equipment replaced.
Built in 1963, the theatre – which has hosted the very best in entertainment over the decades from musicals, plays to ballet, opera, comedy and live music – has been closed since January 2017 for the renovations to take place.
Councillor David Tutt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, said: “When the Congress Theatre opened 56 years ago, the inaugural concert was by the London Philharmonic Orchestra so it is most fitting that we welcome them back again for this landmark performance.
“Sunday is set to be a memorable day in the town’s history when people will get to enjoy the theatre not only restored to its former glory, but with all the modern day comforts added in too.”
The Congress Theatre is considered architecturally on a par with buildings such as The National Theatre and Chichester Theatre.
The theatre refurbishment is part of Eastbourne Borough Council’s £54 million project to create The Devonshire Quarter, a first-class cultural, conferencing and sporting complex.
A new Welcome Building will provide conference halls, break out and hospitality areas and the site’s central box office.
Tennis facilities both on and off court have seen considerable improvements including the building of a new players’ village, and work is well underway on new practice courts which will be finished in time for the town’s international tennis tournament in June 2020.
An elegant new plaza is taking shape to provide an attractive gateway into the theatres, conference facilities and Towner Art Gallery and ensure that Devonshire Quarter is fully accessible to residents and visitors. These includes a new piazza, a disabled drop-off near the entrances to the buildings and more space for people to enjoy.