Lottery Application was submitted in 1996 to Arts Council England (ACE) to refurbish and upgrade the facilities. In October 1996, £40,000 was granted to pay for consultancy to test the feasibility and viability of the project.
On 16 January 1997, ACE agreed to grant Mansfield District Council up to £1,630,471 ‘towards the cost of continuing the upgrading, refurbishment and redevelopment of the public, disabled and technical facilities of the Palace Theatre.’
The Theatre closed in May 1997 for refurbishment. The old stage area was totally demolished, leaving a gaping hole at the front of the auditorium. This led to a total rebuilding of the stage with increased height, width and depth, the fitting of a counterweight flying system and the installation of an orchestra pit lift. This allowed the front of the stage to be raised or lowered to form either an apron in the up position or a pit in the lowest position.
Sight lines were improved by removing the centre aisles in the front stalls to the walls, thereby moving the seats more to the centre. New sound and lighting systems were installed, greatly upgrading the technology to support the touring productions.
Importantly, new offices with IT equipment were built providing valuable working space for administrative and technical staff who previously had none.
The front of house areas were refurbished, creating an attractive public space that was warm and welcoming and provided an area for theatregoers to purchase their refreshments and to mix and mingle prior to the shows and during the interval.
A computerised box office system in the newly built Box Office replaced the old books of paper tickets, abolishing the original cubicle which opened directly onto the street.
There was also an interactive neon light public art installation created for the façade.
The Theatre reopened on Monday 15 December 1997 in time for the first performance of the pantomime Mother Goose.
Since then the Palace Theatre has gone from strength to strength, drawing its audiences from Mansfield and also well beyond the District’s boundaries. It celebrated its centenary in 2010 and in 2016 experienced its most successful year ever with over 100,000 customers attending its productions and with the average attendance rising to 74% or 395 people per performance.