Theatres Trust funding supports new approaches to recovery for theatres at risk

The Theatres Trust has announced the four theatres who will receive support funding in the third year of their Capacity Building Programme.

The programme is designed to support theatres on our Theatres at Risk Register to commission expert advice and acquire the skills and knowledge to push forward capital projects to help save their theatres. Alongside the grant, each theatre will receive support from the Theatres Trust’s advice team.

The four theatres receiving a share of the £45,000 fund are:

Brighton Hippodrome, £8,000
Grade II* listed Brighton Hippodrome is the UK’s most architecturally significant circus theatre – the finest surviving example of its type in the country. It has been on the Theatres at Risk Register since 2006 when the list began, and is also on the Historic England Heritage at Risk Register. Brighton Hippodrome CIC will receive a grant for fundraising scoping and testing, forming part of a wider fundraising strategy for the Hippodrome to enable the group to make a strong case for its future as a theatre.

Doncaster Grand, £11,500
An ornate Grade II listed Victorian theatre with strong community support, Doncaster Grand has been on the Theatres at Risk Register since the list started in 2006. Doncaster Council has been awarded a Theatres at Risk Capacity Building grant to part-fund a viability study for the theatre. The study will be led by the local authority with involvement from the Friends of Doncaster Grand Theatre and the building owner, Frenchgate Limited Partnership.

King’s Theatre Kirkcaldy, £7,000
Originally opened as the King’s Theatre in 1904, it later became a cinema, remaining Kirkcaldy’s main picture house until its closure in 2000. The building remained empty, suffering from a lack of maintenance, leading to it being added to the Theatres at Risk Register in 2016. It was then bought by King’s Theatre Kirkcaldy in 2016, who plan to restore the building to create Fife’s largest performing arts venue. The Theatre at Risk Capacity Building Programme will support King’s Theatre Kirkcaldy Limited to commission a community feasibility study for the theatre. This will provide a comprehensive understanding of the audience and market demand based on detailed market analysis and feedback from the local community.

Ramsbottom Co-op Hall, £19,000
This was only added to the Theatres at Risk Register in 2021 and recently awarded Grade II listed status following a Theatres Trust submission, Ramsbottom Co-op Hall is a rare early surviving example of a Cooperative Hall. It was originally used for variety entertainment of the kind commonly associated with music halls as well as community meetings. The recently formed Ramsbottom Co-op Hall Heritage Trust Ltd will receive funding and support to commission a market appraisal and a building valuation survey, vital first steps in the project to return the building to community performance use.

Claire Appleby, Architecture Adviser at Theatres Trust, said “We believe every theatre on our Theatres at Risk list has the potential to be returned for use by their communities, providing performance venues of types currently lacking in their local areas and bringing much needed footfall to beleaguered high streets. We are pleased to support these theatres as we know from experience that these early stages can make a crucial difference to the progress of theatre revitalisation projects.”

Theatres Trust have expressed their gratitude to The Pilgrim Trust and Swire Charitable Trust for funding the Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme.

I am sure we all wish these buildings every success with their road back to performance.

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