The Theatres Trust

Converting Spaces~Creating Theatres

14 June 2011 Pleasance Islington, London 9:30 – 17:30

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Be part of the debate on the value of theatres in found spaces

Download Report: 11

Many theatres are created in converted buildings by artists, directors and theatre organisations taking on spaces and making them their own.

The Theatres Trust’s Conference 11 looked at how buildings and found spaces are converted into theatres – exploring the visions and realities behind venues including the Tobacco Factory in Bristol, Arcola, BAC and the Park Theatre in London, and the Arches in Glasgow.

We looked at what converted spaces offer artists and audiences, the practicalities of developing spaces not originally designed to be theatres, what makes them unique, and how redevelopment can be managed when money is tight.

Questions included: Is it really less expensive to convert an existing space into a theatre? Will public spending cuts drive more organisations to convert buildings into theatres? Are artists able to achieve more from converted spaces than purpose-built theatres? Do conversions have an artistic shelf life, and what happens when they no longer meet the needs of their users – what should be protected?

Conference 11 was the first significant look at the design, construction and capital development of theatre conversions. It will covered short life and long term conversions, and building types including town halls, warehouses, factories, pubs, vaults and railway arches, miners institutes, meeting halls, churches, offices and other spaces, including former and derelict theatres.

Joyce McMillan, Scotman Theatre Critic is our Conference Chair

Session chairs: Billy Differ, Dan Watkins and Deborah Aydon

Contributors included

Neil Wallace, Head of Programmes at De Doelen
Neil McPherson, Artistic Director, Finborough Theatre, London
Alexander Wright, Co-Artistic Director, Belt Up Theatre
James Sargant, Former owner, Watermill Theatre, Newbury
George Ferguson, Founder, Tobacco Factory, Bristol
Jessica Sutcliffe, Architect, Square Chapel, Halifax
Lyn Gardner, Theatre Critic, The Guardian
Pauline Nee, Head of Historic Buildings, John McAslan and Partners
Andy Arnold, Artistic Director, Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Christopher Richardson, Director, Theatre Futures
Mike Knowlden, Director, Blanch and Shock Food Design
Eddie Redfern, Little Theatre Guild and Archway Theatre, Horley
Jez Bond, Artistic Director, The Park Theatre, London
Dave Hughes, Director, Hughes Jones Farrell
Jon Satow, Cragg Management Services
Ben Todd, Executive Director, Arcola Theatre, London
Neill Woodger, Director, Venue Planning and Design, Arup
David Jubb, Joint Artistic Director, Battersea Arts Centre, London
Steve Tompkins, Director, Haworth Tompkins Ltd
Marcus Davey, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the Roundhouse


Converting Spaces-Creating Theatres is produced by The Theatres Trust
Conference Reporter: Alistair Fair
Production Manager: Andy Shewan
Assistant Production Manager: Chris Stone
Development Consultant: Caz Williamson


Go to Conference11 Programme

Conference Sponsors

The Theatres Trust

22 Charing Cross Road
London WC2H 0QL

T 020 7836 8591
F 020 7836 3302

Protecting theatres for everyone

The National Advisory Public Body for Theatres