The team at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith is taking its destiny into its own hands (and feet) this month as it embarks on a fundraising challenge to buy new seats for its flagship theatre, Studio 2.
In January, comedian Eddie Izzard completed 32 marathons on a treadmill at Riverside Studios, clocking a mammoth 840 miles. The Riverside team is aiming to match that achievement by running, cycling and rowing past Izzard’s total.
“We’re so close to finishing the redevelopment of our building, and purchasing seats for our main performance space is the final piece of the puzzle,” Executive Director Tony Lankester, said. “We could approach a bank or investor to loan us the money. But as a charity we’re mindful of the risk of taking on more debt, and so we’re determined to raise the funds ourselves.”
The Riverside Trust has already had the offer of a grant of up to £25,000 to match whatever the team raise, so in pursuit of a total of £50,000 the team are looking to raise £25,000 from its circle of supporters and donors.
Rachel Tackley, Creative Director of Riverside Studios said, “We have so very nearly completed the opening of our brand new, very swanky building. We have extraordinary facilities at Riverside, enabling artists to make and distribute new work in a digitally sophisticated way. This has served us well throughout the pandemic and has helped us to remain open for TV and film productions. But as social distancing starts to relax and we begin our programme of world class, ground-breaking theatre the need for our own, permanent seating is abundantly clear. Eddie told me back in January that running the first ten marathons are the hardest – something I will never be able to concur! My contribution to this mammoth fundraising task is to row two marathons (52 miles) which I am already beginning to regret!”
Once complete, the new Studio 2 will accommodate 500 patrons – making it one of the few midsize theatre spaces in London, giving producers and artists a space that still feels intimate and “up close” while allowing for a capacity that helps make productions financially viable. The digital capability that has been incorporated into the design and build of the new Riverside Studios rounds off the appeal of the new theatre, giving producers greater flexibility and scope to take their work in new directions and to new audiences.
The Studios already has a reputation for presenting cutting-edge new work and will continue this tradition when Trevor Nunn directs Lisa Dwan in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days from June this year.
“Obviously Happy Days is going to open to a reduced capacity as we ensure a Covid-safe environment for our audiences. But our eyes are firmly on the future, when we can welcome full houses back to Riverside, and these new seats are part of that plan,” Lankester said.
Supporters can donate at Riverside’s crowdfunding page (and earn a thank you reward in the process) or can donate £10 by texting the word ARTS to 70660.