Today, Monday 12 September 2016, Theatres Trust reveals the 36 theatres at most risk across the UK, and Trustee Dara Ó Briain calls on everyone who cares about theatre to join the campaign to protect them.
Of the 36 theatres on the 2016 Register there are 6 new theatres: 3 in England, and 3 in Scotland – these include 3 theatres which have, sadly, returned to the Register.
There has been some fantastic progress for theatres still on the Register, and in this, our 40th year, we’re celebrating those campaign groups who fight so hard to demonstrate their potential viability, and the role that those theatres can play in their communities.
Theatres Trust Trustee, Dara Ó Briain, has lent his support to raise awareness of our campaign by fronting a video introducing some of the excellent work done by community groups around the country, many of whom have submitted video reports highlighting their work protecting the theatres they love.
Dara Ó Briain, said: “As a touring standup comedian I have travelled up and down this country and worked in many of the theatres here and you have a unique and rich heritage of theatres that were built in the last 200 years. But we can’t take that for granted. Local community support is vital in breathing new life into theatres. If a theatre in your community was in danger of being lost forever would you help fight for it? There are 36 theatres all over the country on our Register at the moment. Please join the campaign to save them or make a donation.”
Rebecca Morland, Interim Director of Theatres Trust, said: “Each theatre on the Register has an important place in its community. Our experience shows us that where campaign groups are in place, they can make a real difference to the future of these theatres. The progress that has been made with theatres in Brighton, Burnley and Kirkcaldy – to name but three – is a real testament to this.”
The Trust’s At Risk Register launch is generously supported by theatre insurance brokers Integro. Andy Rudge, Head of Theatre, said: “We have been a long standing supporter of the valuable work Theatres Trust undertake within the theatre industry – the Theatre Buildings at Risk Register is integral to their activities – identifying and providing much needed support to organisations when the sustainability and viability of their venue is threatened. It’s vital this work continues to help maintain the cultural landscape of the UK.”
New on the Register
New to the Register in 2016 is the Broadway Theatre, Peterborough, currently under threat from redevelopment for residential use. It has one of the finest remaining interiors from the Odeon chain, having been converted to theatre use in 2001. In Scotland two Category B-listed theatres also feature. The King’s Theatre in Dundee, the only surviving large touring theatre in the Dundee area, is increasingly deteriorating due to lack of maintenance. Whilst the King’s Kirkcaldy has been dark for 11 years, with various unfulfilled proposals for redevelopment. Both now have campaign groups who see the buildings’ potential and are working to secure their long term sustainable future.
Leith Theatre in Scotland has been placed back on the Register, despite tremendous work by the community group in securing a lease on the premises, due to the amounts of funding still required to secure its future. The Secombeand the Charles Cryer in Sutton were removed from the Register only last year after reopening, but now make a re-entry as the operator has gone into administration, leaving the future of these theatres in doubt.
One theatre whose future has been secured however is the Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd, a Grade II listed former Wesleyan Chapel. Thanks to a local consortium of private, public and charitable organisations, the New Muni is open with volunteer advisory panels informing its future artistic and cultural programming.
Ensuring theatres’ viability
Whilst we passionately believe in protecting theatre buildings for live performance use, their regeneration and future survival hinges on their viability. This year many groups have undertaken studies to show the value that their reopened theatre could bring to their local community.
The number one theatre on the At Risk Register for the last 4 years has beenBrighton Hippodrome. In 2015, Theatres Trust paved the way for a viability study and the local community group have built on that to secure more funding and do more work, with the overall aim of returning this gloriously unique Grade II* listed circus theatre to live performance use.
Another great example is Burnley Empire. Languishing without use for many years, its appearance on the 2015 Theatres at Risk Register led to the formation of an active community group. Their fundraising, together with support from the local Council and Theatres Trust, has led to a viability study which is currently underway, exploring potential uses for the theatre.
Other theatres on the Register actively considering their viability, working hard on business plans, or undertaking options appraisals, include the King’s Theatre, Dundee who are currently fundraising for their viability study,Mechanics Institute in Swindon, a former social community and staff centre for the Great Western railway, Doncaster Grand, an ornate Grade II listed Victorian theatre, and Dudley Hippodrome, whose campaign group recently secured a 5-year lease for the venue.
We asked the At Risk theatres campaign groups to provide us with videos highlighting their work in campaigning for the theatres they are passionate about. Included in these reports are: Bradford Odeon, the Mechanics Institute in Swindon, the Theatre Royal in Hyde, Spilsby Theatre in Lincolnshire, Doncaster Grand, Tameside Hippodrome, the King’s Theatre in Kirkcaldy, Burnley Empire, Brighton Hippodrome, the Futurist in Scarborough, Alexandra Palace in London, Plymouth Palace, Colwyn Bay Pier Pavilion, and Leith Theatre.