A £1.63m technology upgrade at the Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre has been backed by Tynwald.

The last major overhaul of sound and lighting equipment at both the Gaiety Theatre and Villa Marina came in 1996 and 2004 respectively, with much now beyond its serviceable life.

The three year capital works project will overhaul the rigging and improve the acoustics of the venues, before modern and interchangeable lighting and sound facilities are installed.

Minister for Education, Sport and Culture, Julie Edge MHK, said: ‘The upgrade will safeguard the future of the VillaGaiety complex and retain the organisation’s ability to curate a representative programme of high quality live events.

She continued: ‘Both venues must offer a plug and play experience that makes it stress free for acts to visit, and alleviates the need to import or extensively hire equipment, which would make the island an unattractive touring destination.

‘Once complete it will ensure the island continues to attract the calibre of singers, bands, comedians and productions that people have become accustomed too.’

The new LED lighting is expected to half running costs.

Treasury Minister, Alex Allinson MHK, said: ‘It will enhance and future proof these vital cultural facilities for both the audience and performers.’

Dr Allinson told Tynwald that engineers had spent years patching up equipment – but that the time has come for the current ‘obsolete, substandard and unreliable’ system to be replaced. 

The Minister added: ‘Giving our local community improved access to culture, creativity and entertainment without the need to travel off island is an important part of Our Island Plan.’ 

The project will be carried out in two phases.