Theatres Trust has launched its Theatres at Risk Register 2018 with a call for local authorities to better support their theatre buildings by developing the opportunities they offer to their communities, while the Brighton Hippodrome has been named the most ‘at risk’ theatre in the UK for the fifth consecutive year.
image Theatres Trust website
The Trust writes:
The Register lists 35 theatre buildings across England, Scotland and Wales that are most at risk of being lost – even though each has real potential for a sustainable future as a working performance space.
The 2018 Register, which was launched at the Soho Theatre, London, saw Theatres Trust Trustee, comedian and television presenter Dara Ó Briain lending his support. He said: ‘Today we’re asking local authorities to stop viewing these sites as liabilities, and start thinking of them as opportunities; to work with eager local campaign groups and experienced theatre operators to put these incredible spaces back to work at the heart of their communities. And the call goes to the public as well. These campaigns work, these buildings can be saved, and you can help bring these wonderful theatres back to life.’
The 2018 Register clearly demonstrates those venues that receive support from their local authority are much more likely to take an assured path towards an ongoing life as a performance venue. These are challenging times for local authorities, as they are under tight financial pressures, but our evidence shows that through collaboration and creative partnerships, these venues are opportunities for local authorities to support and stimulate their local economy, provide a focus for local pride and act as an important community resource.
The Trust has been working with theatre buildings and local authorities to find creative solutions in order to keep buildings such as those on the Register in use. The industry body is encouraging local authorities to embrace and develop creative partnerships that secure new lives for these buildings with the following practical recommendations:
- Reviewing the economic and social benefits of a theatre when making any decision about its future
- Ensuring the inclusion of culture within local plans to promote and encourage new venues and protect existing buildings
- Offering full support to community groups campaigning to get buildings back in to use, such as suspending demolition proposals, putting their support behind funding bids etc
- Intervening to prevent deterioration of listed buildings through repairs notices, section 215 notices etc
- Providing assistance to groups to investigate the viability of their theatre and develop proposals
- Offering theatre campaign and community groups leases with a reasonable lengthand conditions, to enable them to secure funding from other partners
- Offering affordable rents to operators that want to develop the theatres as future performance spaces
- Offering capital grants and / or loans to support capital works projects
Each theatre on the Theatres at Risk Register has the potential to have a life as a performance space and each deserves the opportunity to explore how this potential can be realised.
Our work with Theatres at Risk goes right to the heart of what we do – protecting theatres for everyone. We work with local groups, theatre operators and local authorities up and down the country to help find creative and sustainable solutions either to restore and reopen these buildings or to keep their buildings open.
The annual launch of the Register is aimed at highlighting and raising the profile of those theatre buildings we consider to be most at risk across the UK.
View the BBC News item