Wilton’s £2.25m funding bid rejected

Natalie Woolman

Wilton’s Music Hall has had its £2.25 million application to the Heritage Lottery Fund rejected and now faces being closed by this autumn if nothing is done.

HLF decided to reject the grant, which would have helped to fund the works needed to stabilise the mid-Victorian building, yesterday. The London venue needs £3.5 million to make it structurally sound, and believed it could raise £1.25 million itself towards the total with the lottery money making up the rest.

Wilton’s director Frances Mayhew commented: “This is a real blow to Wilton’s. We understand that funds are limited at the Heritage Lottery but it is sad that the last music hall of its kind which is literally falling down cannot find favour with the Heritage Lottery. It is particularly frustrating as this cultural gem is in one of the poorest boroughs in London that does not naturally attract funding.

“The building cannot wait any longer though, we need to take action and raise the £3.8 million now. If we do nothing, by autumn this year we would be closed down. We won’t let this happen.”

As well as stabilising existing parts of the venue, the funds would also have allowed the staff to open the 40% of the building currently closed to the public and facilitated an education programme.

Carole Souter, chief executive of HLF, said: “Wilton’s Music Hall is a unique and precious part of our theatrical heritage. The trust’s plans were well articulated and ranked highly for our support. However, this was a competitive round of funding – almost three times over-subscribed – and, in spite of huge enthusiasm for the project, we simply did not have enough money to fund it in this round as other projects were even stronger. We will be meeting with trust representatives shortly in order to provide feedback and discuss the best way forward.”

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