Theatres Trust 2018 highlights

2018 was a busy year at the Theatres Trust so we thought we’d share some of the highlights.

Advice about theatres old and new

We gave advice to local authorities, theatre owners and operators and campaign groups, about more than 200 theatres. Advice ranged from building design to operational viability and theatres.

We commented on every theatre planning application that was made in England, Scotland and Wales.

Making the case for theatre buildings

We continued to make the case for investment in theatre buildings and recognition of their importance to local economies, placemaking and regeneration. We responded to consultations including National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns and the Arts Council England’s 10-year strategy.

We carried out an ambitious piece of research with UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre to ascertain the amount of capital investment in theatres needed over the next 5 years. The research found that an estimated £1bn is needed for capital projects to upgrade and maintain theatres across the UK.

Theatres at Risk

We launched the Theatres at Risk Register 2018 in January at Soho Theatre, hosted by our Trustee comedian and presenter, Dara Ó Briain. The launch received the most media coverage the list has ever had, helping our campaign to save these amazing buildings.

Our work to protect the 35 theatres on the list continued throughout 2018 including commenting on the Snibston Masterplan, which now has positive outcomes for the Century Theatre, advising the Friends of Streatham Hill Theatre on having the theatre listed as an Asset of Community Value and helping raise the profile of their campaign and being a key partner for the Burnley Empire friends group, advising them and enabling them to buy the building in December.


We gave grants to 19 theatres, large and small, from one end of the country to another, from Dundee Rep to the Kings Theatre Portsmouth.

We also launched two new funding schemes in 2018. Thanks to continued support from the Wolfson Foundation, the Theatre Improvement Scheme in 2018 focused on improving disability access and attracted a high level of applicants. We were honoured to be chosen as J&C Joel’s Charity of the Year and worked together on the J&C Joel Setting the Stage Fund, offering up to £10,000 of in-kind support to a community theatre. The successful applicants for both schemes will be announced soon.

Increasing our influence and effectiveness

We were delighted to appoint 25 high profile Ambassadors from across the theatre and arts sectors to support our work in 2018. With the help of many of them, we made a short film about our work, which was first screened at a fundraising event at the London Palladium in October.

Conference 18: Adapt & Thrive

Our conference in October at the Lyric Hammersmith looked at how  changing artistic, business and operating models in the theatre sector are impacting on how we build, adapt and run theatres.

It was the most attended to date and included a line-up of speakers from theatre operators, local authorities and architecture. Theatre case studies included Bristol Old Vic, The Factory in Manchester, Citizens Theatre and Stockton Globe.   A conference highlight was Cameron Mackintosh in conversation with fellow Theatres Trust Ambassador Samira Ahmed.

Looking ahead to 2019

We are now looking forward to our work in 2019. This will include announcing the 2019 Theatres at Risk Register and launching a capacity building scheme for Theatres at Risk, planning for Conference 2019 and continuing to support theatres through our grant-giving and the introduction of new advice notes. 

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