A CHILDREN'S theatre company has been awarded £1.5m in Arts Council funding to create a specialist children's theatre in the heart of Darlington.

Theatre Hullabaloo, which is based in Darlington, proposed an extension to Darlington Civic Theatre to create a 150 seat studio theatre, family cafe and creative play space, plus rehearsal and office spaces.

The news of the grant funding has been welcomed by Miranda Thain, creative producer of Theatre Hullabaloo, who described it as "a dream come true".

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The new venue, which will be named The Hullabaloon, will be created in a former fire service building in a £2.15m project.

The rest of the funding, some £650,000, has been committed by Darlington Borough Council as part of its wider project to modernise the Civic Theatre.

Theatre Hullabaloo is the only organisation in Darlington to be part of the Art Council's national portfolio and receive Arts Council funding - the theatre's core funding has also been confirmed for 2015-2018, with an additional £45,000 to work particularly with children in need.

Ms Thain added: “The opportunity to build a child-centred theatre in Darlington is a dream come true and as the only theatre of its kind in the North, The Hullabaloon will have a hugely positive impact for children and families based within the region for years to come.

"It will also make a significant contribution to children’s theatre nationally and internationally. “Theatre Hullabaloo is proud to be part of the National Portfolio and grateful to receive continued funding to bring quality theatre to children and families in our region. The investment also reinforces our position as an important cultural export for the North East.

“Investment decisions have been made in the context of further cuts to the Arts Council’s budget, so we are delighted that, despite those pressures, opportunities for children and young people remain a priority."

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