Nominees include London’s Boulevard Theatre in Soho, Leeds Playhouse and the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
Theatre venues or any physical structure or space hosting theatrical performance are eligible for this award. The building or space must have launched (or relaunched) within the past 12 months. Judged on criteria including (but not limited to) innovation, design and facilities.
Award sponsored by TAIT
Occupying a four-storey premises in the heart of Soho that was originally part of the Raymond Revue Bar, the new Boulevard Theatre takes its name from the sister venue to the notorious striptease club, a space where, in the 1970s, famous comedy troupe the Comic Strip used to perform.
The 165-seat venue was created as part of a larger redevelopment of Walker’s Court by Soho Estates, managed by Paul Raymond’s granddaughter Fawn James. The Boulevard, which opened its doors in October 2019, boasts a state-of-the-art auditorium, designed by Soda studio and Charcoal Blue. It is designed to be intimate and flexible, with a revolving configuration that allows the interior of the theatre to be transformed within minutes. Seating at both the circle and the stalls level can independently revolve to create an adaptable performance space.
The site also features a stylish salmon pink-walled restaurant, a bar and a box-office area connected to the main building by way of a striking glass bridge looking out over Soho.
Under the artistic directorship of Rachel Edwards, founder of Tooting Arts Club, the theatre will play host to in-house theatre productions – including debut show Ghost Quartet – alongside a programme of live music, cabaret and comedy. The Boulevard feels like a welcome, innovative and luxurious addition to contemporary Soho, while also paying tribute to the area’s past.
After a £15.8 million redevelopment overseen by Page Park Architects, Leeds Playhouse has a new face. The entrance to the theatre formerly known as West Yorkshire Playhouse used to be tucked away, but after reopening in 2019, it has been transformed. A new frontage, white with strikingly designed coloured panels, now greets visitors. Public spaces have also undergone significant improvements – the interior feels much lighter and brighter with a revamped restaurant and bar, plus a new café area, all serving to make it more appealing.
A new studio, the 120-seat Bramall Rock Void, has also been created in a vacant space underneath the building on the Quarry Hills site it has occupied since 1990.
Care has been taken to make the space as accessible and welcoming as possible in other ways, from the toilet provision – the theatre boasts a Changing Places toilet, for people whose needs are not met by standard accessible toilets, as well as gender-neutral facilities – to well-located wheelchair spaces that can be accessed via the main entrance to the auditorium. But the greatest change is one of visibility: from the Chumbawumba-inspired neon artwork on the exterior wall to the stylish, inviting entrance, the theatre now looks out towards the city.
Mountview’s new Peckham base opened its doors in September 2018 but was finally completed in 2019. Designed by Carl Turner Architects, the impressive and distinctive building, shortlisted as one of the buildings of the year at the New London Awards 2019, boasts two well-equipped performance spaces – a 200-seat theatre and the 80-seat Backstage Theatre. Between them, they will host more than 20 student productions a year, as well as work from visiting professional companies and community groups.
The building houses 21 studios, production workshops and a West End-scale rehearsal space available for hire.
Its location, in the heart of Peckham, has been a key factor in the success of the building. In addition to the facilities dedicated to vocational development, it’s also a vibrant social space that is open to the wider community.
The building houses a number of bars and cafes, including an all-day coffee shop that opens on to Library Square and a rooftop restaurant with views across London. All are open to the public and there’s a strong emphasis on engagement with the community. The building’s training facilities are available on evenings, weekends and holidays, with local community groups given discounted rates.