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Issued: Thursday 9 November 2017



The Royal Shakespeare’s Company’s (RSC) Costume Workshop restoration and redevelopment has been given the green light by the Stratford-on-Avon District Council planning committee. 

The Costume Workshop is located opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in an assortment of buildings, hidden behind the Grade II-listed 1887 former scene dock constructed for the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre.  Costume making on the site dates back to this time, with the current workshop being here since the 1950s. 

The RSC has the largest in-house costume-making department of any British theatre.  Alongside its own armoury, the workshop is home to many specialist skills and crafts including men’s and ladies’ costume-making, millinery, dyeing and printing.  The team creates hundreds of costumes each year for RSC productions, which are seen by audiences across the world.  The redevelopment will:

  • create the best facilities for costume-making
  • care for the heritage Grade II listed buildings
  • provide training and apprenticeship opportunities
  • ·open the workshop to visitors for the first time

The RSC launched its fundraising campaign, Stitch In Time, in September, to raise funds for the project, which is due to begin in summer 2018.  The Costume Workshop team will continue to produce costumes during the redevelopment, relocating to the Company’s Arden Street rehearsal rooms for the duration of the works, which are due to be completed by Spring 2020. 


Catherine Mallyon, RSC Executive Director said:

“We are delighted that the local planning authority has recognised the importance of and need for the redevelopment and restoration of our Costume Workshop.  We would like to thank them for their support and we are looking forward to progressing our project.

“The workshop has operated in its current form since the 1950s, and we are now at a point where the cluster of buildings is not fit for purpose, and in need of urgent attention.

“Every year, millions of people enjoy our costumes and we know that they are fascinated by the processes that go into making them.  For the first time, we want to open our Costume Workshop to the public, so that people can experience the skill and craftsmanship that goes into making our beautiful costumes.

“Our Stitch In Time fundraising campaign has captured people’s imagination, but there is still a long way to go.  We hope that people will support the project to make sure that we can continue making stunning costumes in our Stratford workshops, and pass on those skills to the next generation of costume makers”. 

The project has already secured £2.1 million of funding from Arts Council England, plus initial support* for a £950,000 National Lottery grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

To find out more about Stitch In Time visit

Stitch In Time is supported by the Costume Workshop Council: Emma Bridgewater CBE, Noma Dumezweni, Lydia and Manfred Gorvy, Lord Digby Jones, Anne Olivieri, Dame Hilary Mantel DBE, Emma Marsh, Jane Pragnell, Matthew Rice, Sir Antony Sher, Josette Simon OBE, Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, and Dame Harriet Walter DBE. 



For more information, contact Liz Thompson, Director of Communications (, 07717 297181), or Jane Ellis, Head of Communications (, 07966 295032).


Notes to Editors

Images: new visualisations of the Costume Workshop are available on our website

The restoration and redevelopment of the Costume Workshop is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, with additional support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, Lydia and Manfred Gorvy, The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation and other generous supporters.

The RSC Acting Companies are generously supported by THE GATSBY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION and THE KOVNER FOUNDATION.

The RSC is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

About Arts Council England

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.


About the Heritage Lottery Fund

*Heritage Grants applications are assessed in two rounds.  A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.


About the Royal Shakespeare Company

The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world.  We produce an inspirational artistic programme each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers.  

Everyone at the RSC - from actors to armourers, musicians to technicians - plays a part in creating the world you see on stage.  All our productions begin life at our Stratford workshops and theatres and we bring them to the widest possible audience through our touring, residencies, live broadcasts and online activity. So wherever you experience the RSC, you experience work made in Shakespeare’s home town.  

We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. We encourage everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre.  We reach 530,000 children and young people annually through our education work, transforming their experiences in the classroom, in performance and online.  Registered charity no. 212481
















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