Theatres Trust, the national advisory body for theatres, has announced the four UK theatres that will receive a share of £45,000 from the third round of its Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme. The theatres are Brighton Hippodrome, Co-op Hall Ramsbottom, Grand Theatre Doncaster and King’s Theatre Kirkcaldy.
The programme is designed to support theatres on the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Register to commission expert advice and acquire the skills and knowledge to push forward capital projects to help save these architecturally important theatres. The theatres are all on the Theatres at Risk Register 2021, as announced in January, but are at various stages in their journey to restoration and revival.
This round of funding will support projects ranging from a building valuation survey to viability and community feasibility studies. Alongside the grant, each theatre will receive free support from the Theatres Trust advice team.
Claire Appleby, Architecture Adviser at Theatres Trust, comments 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 that have received support through the past two rounds of the programme have made real progress. Morecambe Winter Gardens has reaped the benefits of governance and business planning support, unlocking more sources of funding and providing stability to survive the lockdown. Funding for a conditions survey and governance work has likewise helped the Groundlings Theatre in Portsea access funding for necessary repair works. Viability studies funded at Derby Hippodrome and Swindon Mechanic’s Institute have shown ways forward for the buildings, as a live music venue and a multi-purpose community and cultural space respectively.
Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme is made possible thanks to the generous support of The Pilgrim Trust and Swire Charitable Trust, with the past two rounds also funded by Historic England.
Sue Bowers, Director at The Pilgrim Trust says Seeking solutions for historic buildings at risk is one of The Pilgrim Trust’s priorities, and so we are delighted that our partnership with the Theatres Trust does just that. Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme is an important step for local communities in preserving these culturally significant buildings now and in the future.
Sarah Irving, Grants Manager at Swire Charitable Trust, says We are delighted to be supporting the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme again. This vital programme is need now more than ever to help create viable futures for these endangered local gems and support the community groups fighting to see them survive. We will follow the progress of each project with great interest.
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
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 Co- operative 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.