MORE than £500,000 will be spent upgrading Consett’s Empire Theatre.

The Durham County Council project will involve refreshing the decor of the theatre’s auditorium, enhancements to the stage and lighting, and improving backstage facilities for visiting acts. There will also be essential repairs made to the roof and cosmetic updates to the cafe and box office areas.

The upgrade means the 500-capacity venue will close temporarily from Wednesday, April 1 and will reopen in early September.

Councillor Joy Allen, cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “The Empire Theatre is a popular venue and is the heart of Consett for live theatre, the latest blockbusters, cultural events, and as a place to unwind at its cafe.

“These improvements will give the venue a real boost so it can continue as a hub for family-friendly entertainment when it re-opens in the Autumn season.”

Tickets for upcoming shows will still be available online at the Empire website or via a temporary Box Office at Consett Library, which will be open 9.30am to 5pm on Mondays, 9.30am to 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9.30am to 12.30pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and 9.30am to 1pm on Fridays.

For further details, and to contact the Empire Theatre during the closure, visit the venue’s Facebook page at @empiretheatreconsett or its website at