GLASGOW'S oldest theatre is to begin work this year on an £11.5million makeover.
Another vital part of the funding is now in place after Glasgow City Council agreed to contribute £500,000 towards the cost of the redevelopment.
The theatre, which is owned by Scottish Opera, first opened its doors to audiences 145 years ago and it is now the longest-running theatre in Scotland.
The redevelopment will create a new entrance and extension to the building on the corner of Cowcaddens Road and Hope Street.
It will provide a new box office, ground floor cafe/bar, an education suite, new staircase and lifts, new bars, toilets and cloakrooms on all levels and new hospitality suites.
There will also be a new air cooling system in the auditorium, improved sight lines and wheelchair positions at all levels.
Scottish Opera, which bought the Theatre Royal in 1974, carried out an major refurbishment of the existing building, including the auditorium, in 1997.
But, according to a senior councillor, the theatre, which is managed by the Ambassador Theatre Group, is not providing the best possible experience for audiences.
Liz Cameron, the city council's spokeswoman for jobs and the economy, said: "Between Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet, and increased programming from Ambassador Theatre Group, the building is struggling to provide top quality public space to audiences.
"The legacy of the Victorian building means there is limited accessibility, inadequate facilities, poor ventilation and a large number of restricted view seats.
"But the Theatre Royal is a key asset in the city's performance infrastructure.
"This proposal will allow the public experience to match the impressive Victorian interior of the existing building.
"Up to date facilities will enable visitors to the venue to have a first class experience and help to build audiences and access to this venue."
The £500,000 from Glasgow is the latest cash to be committed to the project.
The Scottish Government had previously announced it would pay £4m towards the work, while various trusts had promised more than £1.2m. Individual donations total more than £1m.
That adds up to £6.7m, leaving Scottish Opera to pay £4.8m.
Alex Reedijk, general director of Scottish Opera, said: "We are delighted Glasgow City Council is investing in the development of the Theatre Royal.
"It is a significant step in the moves to secure the remaining funding for the project.
"The planned addition of new foyers and public spaces will greatly improve the experience for audiences at one of the most beautiful and historic theatres in Scotland.
"It will also create a world-class venue and a legacy for the city of Glasgow, opening in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2014."
The work will mean the theatre will have to close for a short time but, otherwise, productions will not be affected.
A spokeswoman said: "The theatre will close for a matter of weeks for one very specific part of the build, but for the rest of the time the shows will go on because the work is being programmed in a way that is not disruptive to the continuing operation of the theatre."