The Theatres Trust

Theatre buildings at risk register 2010 highlights local campaigns to save theatres

14th July 2010

The Theatres Trust’s 2010 Theatre Buildings at Risk register (TBAR), published today, reveals how the recession in 2009 has impacted on theatres across the UK - stalling plans to save theatres and placing more theatres under threat of demolition.

The TBAR also illustrates that cuts to public sector spending have already started to bite, and how through the power of social media, local groups are coming together to make the case and fight for the future of their local theatres.

Covering the whole of the UK, the TBAR highlights theatres in use and theatre buildings that were once in use. They share threats from demolition, neglect, adverse local development, funding cuts and closure.

Many thousands of local people have signed up to Facebook campaigns and signed petitions in support of their local theatres. Theatres threatened with closure include the Acorn Arts Centre in Penzance and the Grade II Crewe Lyceum, which are both under imminent threat as a result of recent funding decisions. Bedford Civic is also at risk from local authority plans to close and convert it into a one stop shop for council services.

Theatres threatened with imminent demolition include Workington Opera House, which its owners intend to demolish and replace with apartments, the Borough Theatre in Wallsend which is also to be demolished for housing development, and the Grade II Derby Hippodrome which the owner is seeking planning permission to replace with a car park.

The Trust has removed theatres from last year’s TBAR that have been promised public funding to secure their future, but it is keeping a close eye on these theatres in light of reviews of public sector funding commitments. Removed theatres include the Grade II* Opera House in Blackpool. The City Council has been promised the funding to purchase the Winter Gardens, and with this the immediate threat of demolition of the Opera House for redevelopment is removed. St George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth has benefited from Sea Change Funding, and the University of Portsmouth is progressing with its plans to reinstate the stage and backstage facilities at Portsmouth Theatre Royal.

However, The Theatres Trust is deeply concerned that the number of theatres on the TBAR will grow over the next year. With the abolition of the Regional Development Agencies and the creation of new Local Enterprise Partnerships, sources of capital funding are unclear.

Many of the theatres that have been on the register in previous years and are still closed and boarded up are likely to remain so. Theatres such as the Plymouth Palace and Burnley Empire remain closed but are located in areas with real regeneration potential. One hope is that as Lottery distributors’ funding allocations return to pre-Olympics levels, capital funding will be more available to secure the future of many of the theatres on the risk register.

The theatres on the TBAR provide important cultural and community resources for local people and make their contribution to the vision of a ‘Big Society’. They empower people, are important in engendering local pride, and enhance the quality of people’s lives, through the access they provide to the arts and entertainment and by their contribution to the quality of the built environment.

Theatres Trust Chairman, Rob Dickins CBE said, “Our TBAR this year really highlights theatres under threat from imminent demolition and funding cuts. I’m very concerned that the theatres currently providing local people with access to their only live arts and entertainment experiences are going to end up abandoned and lying empty. Previously closed and abandoned theatres are also now more of a target for redevelopment and demolition. We cannot lose our theatre heritage in this way.

View Press Release

Go to the Theatre Buildings at Risk register 2010

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