Brighton Hippodrome has a future as a performance venue, says new report

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A Viability Study has been published which demonstrates that Brighton Hippodrome has a future as a performance venue.

Seven organisations came together in June this year to identify a use for Brighton Hippodrome following its purchase by Academy Music Group (AMG).

Led by The Theatres Trust, the Stakeholders Group included Brighton and Hove City Council, Historic England, Our Brighton Hippodrome, Brighton HippodromeCIC, the Frank Matcham Society, and Academy Music Group. The Theatres Trust funded the Viability Study with financial contributions from Historic England and Brighton Hippodrome CIC.

Brighton Hippodrome is an exceptionally important Grade II* listed building, designed by renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham, and has headlined The Theatres Trust’s Theatre Buildings at Risk Register since 2009.

Over a six month period the group worked on finding a use for the Hippodrome and commissioned Colliers International to produce a Viability Study. The report was adopted by the Stakeholders Group in November 2015.

The Viability Study concludes that the Hippodrome has a viable future as a live performance venue, if the challenge of raising funds to restore the building can be met. Three main options were proposed and other uses were explored. The preferred option, a Theatre of Varieties would enable the venue to be used flexibly with 900 seats and incorporate a range of performances and other uses for major events such as the Brighton Festival. This option would retain the existing fly tower, the full auditorium and delivery access to the theatre. The projected cost for this option is c.£13 million.

This is less than the cost of restoring it as a full Lyric Theatre (estimated at c.£30 million), but would give more time to raise funds to restore it as a larger Lyric Theatre at a later date. The Viability Study identified that there is a gap in the market in Brighton for a Lyric Theatre.

Brighton Hippodrome CIC, the community interest company set up by Our Brighton Hippodrome, is now leading the project. It is looking to make major grant applications and seek commercial partners to work with them on the acquisition and restoration of the building.

Gavin Henderson CBE, Chairman of Brighton Hippodrome CIC said, “The Viability Study has helped us find a way forward for the Hippodrome, but there is a long way to go from here before we can bring performances back to this wonderful building”.

Academy Music Group will continue to support Brighton Hippodrome CIC but, as agreed following the end of a six month exclusivity period supporting the Stakeholders Group through the Study, will be open to offers for the freehold.

Mhora Samuel, Director of The Theatres Trust said, “We have been very grateful for the six month window provided by AMG. It has allowed us to work closely together as a group of stakeholders and produce a Viability Report which gives us confidence that a revived Brighton Hippodrome has a future as a live performance venue. The challenges ahead are considerable however, and we will continue to campaign for its future and support the CIC with its fundraising.”

The following documents are available to download:

Commentary on the Viability Study by the Stakeholders Group (PDF)
Executive Summary of the Viability Study (PDF)
Press Release: Brighton Hippodrome has a future as a performance venue (PDF)

For further information contact press@theatrestrust.org.uk or call 020 7836 8591.

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