Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme announces award recipients for Year Two

The Theatres Trust have unveiled the recipients of awards in the second year of their Theatres at Risk Fund

Six theatres will receive a total of £67,500 worth of support donated by Historic England, The Pilgrim Trust and The Swire Charitable Trust.

All of the recipients are on the Theatres at Risk Register 2020, and each is at a different stage in their journeys to recovery.

The awards were established to help theatres on the At Risk Register to access the right skills and knowledge to enable them to move forward.

The success of last year’s inaugural awards (read about it here) has led to progress being made for all the first year recipients.

Recipients this year are:

Brighton Hippodrome, a Grade ll* listed building, the UK ‘s finest surviving example of a circus theatre, designed by Frank Matcham in 1901.

Derby Hippodrome, a rare survivor of an early theatre built both for cinema and variety. Grade ll listed, it was severely damaged when a previous owner weakened the structure by driving a bulldozer through a supporting wall in a callous attempt to get it demolished by damaging it beyond repair. Thankfully, he didn’t succeed-but there is much to repair before this structure is safe again.

Walthamstow Granada, a Grade ll* listed cine-variety theatre is in the process of being restored after purchase by Walthamstow Council (previously the only London Borough without a theatre) as part of their Borough of Culture celebrations. (Read more about the Walthamstow Granada here).

Groundlings Theatre, Portsmouth is listed Grade ll* and received the largest share of grant money to further a new survey of the building and assist in business planning.

Leith Theatre has lain empty since 1988 but is now in the process of renovation after a ‘nick of time’ rescue against demolition.

Streatham Hill Theatre is the last theatre designed by celebrated architect W G R Sprague and has lain empty since 2017. The Friends Group have successfully fundraised to finance a viability study for the theatre ‘s future and this grant will support that funding.

For more information about the awards, visit the Theatres Trust website here

Theatres At Risk 2020 Register published

The Theatres Trust has today published its annual Theatres At Risk Register, which is its 13th year of publication. Yet again this year, the North West of England has the highest concentration of endangered buildings.

The list of 30 theatre buildings are those most at risk of being lost due to closure, irreversible changes, demolition or simply neglect. With the appropriate help these historic (sometime listed) buildings could become vital assets to their communities again. Once gone, they will never return.

Of the 30 theatres, 24 are in England with 10 of those in the north west and 4 in London. 3 are in Wales and 3 are in Scotland.

Changes from last year include the removal from the list of two buildings- the Bradford Odeon, due to extensive renovation work, and the ex-Odeon Peterborough, now reopened as the New Theatre.

Sadly there is one new addition to the list this year is the Grade II listed Groundlings Theatre in Portsmouth which has suffered from the effects of recent break-ins and vandalism as well as a neighbouring redevelopment threat.

Positive steps have also been made with the theatres who received financial and advisory support from the excellent new Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme – Burnley Empire, Morecambe Winter Gardens, Salford Victoria, Spilsby Theatre, Swindon Mechanics’ Institute, along with Peterborough New Theatre. Launched as a pilot scheme in 2019, the programme provides grants and in-depth advice from the Theatres Trust for the early stage work that is often difficult to fundraise for but essential to set theatres at risk on the path to revival.

There is also progress at the Walthamstow Granada in London which has been bought by the local council and is in the first stages of refurbishment (sadly complicated by the discovery of asbestos in its construction, which will add several million pounds to the overall renovation cost). You can read about my recent visit to the Walthamstow Granada here

This new Register underlines the extensive, valuable work which the Theatres Trust do to help keep our precious entertainment buildings from the wrecker’s ball.

To explore the full Theatres at Risk Register, click here