Avid theatregoers will be able to own a piece of heritage in a novel fundraiser to support a much-loved theatre.

The Millgate Arts Centre in Delph plans to raise £50,000 in ambitious plans to completely refurbish the auditorium and seating by offering their audiences an opportunity to buy a seat for posterity.

One hundred and sixty lucky people will be able to have one of the new seats in the auditorium inscribed with their own name for £150.

The present auditorium was built in 1972 when Saddleworth Players and a group of volunteers took over the former Co-op building.

Half of the £50,000 target will replace the Edwardian-style cinema seats with the other half used to improve ventilation, lighting and staging.

The Auditorium Appeal launches Saturday June 16 at the Millgate Arts Centre Open Day seeking support from local theatre audiences, businesses and groups.

The visitors will be able to take a close-up and personal look at the facilities planned for improvements including the set and backstage which will open from 6pm-7.30pm.

And members of the groups who use the centre including Saddleworth Players, Saddleworth Live, Saddleworth Film Society, Saddleworth Concert Society and Delph Library, will be in hand to meet the visitors.

There will be an hour-long preview from the directors of next season and Saddleworth Players will perform a One Act Show ‘Sisters, Sisters’ by the cast and crew of the Farndale Murder Mystery.

Ian Shepherd of Saddleworth Players said: “The centre is not just a theatre - it’s a showcase for the whole community that bursts with a galaxy of concerts, brass bands, plays, readings, shows and so much more.

“We have professional artists and amateur dramatic groups and we’ve even had an art exhibition showcasing the community’s incredible local talent.

“The centre is really thriving with an increasing interest and involvement from a wider audience.”

And later in the year, backing the new initiative, a series of key fundraisers are planned including a charity Last Night of the Proms and an a blockbuster Christmas pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.

The pantomime cast is currently under wraps but some will be revealed on June 16. Tickets for the event, which includes a free buffet, are free but limited to the theatre’s capacity, and must be booked on line: www.millgateartscentre.co.uk

For more information on the auditorium appeal, email:johntanner@tannerbrothers.co.uk. Ends