London’s Hackney Empire, the Acorn Arts Centre in Cornwall and Glasgow Coliseum are all new additions to this year’s Theatre Buildings at Risk register published by heritage body the Theatres Trust.
There are 14 new entries on the register, which is compiled annually. These include the Bedford Civic, as the local authority plans to convert it into a one-stop shop for council services, and the Workington Opera House, which is threatened with demolition. But the overall number of venues listed has decreased from 82 to 55, with 40 buildings on the 2009 TBAR removed.
Theatres Trust director Mhora Samuel explained this drop was because the organisation decided to focus only on high-risk buildings this year. She added: “There is a significant number which are at risk of demolition, which we are very concerned about, but, I think in light of the recession really starting to take hold last year, the other big risk is around the commitment of public sector funders to sustain the funding that they had for these theatres.
“The demolition issues, quite a lot of them have come up because local authorities in particular are looking at every site they have got. We face really hard times at the moment and those sort of pressures are ahead of us.”
Buildings which have been promised public funding have been removed from the list, although the Theatres Trust will monitor reviews of these commitments closely in case their situations change.
Theatres that have been removed include the Opera House in Blackpool, as the city council has promised funding to purchase the Winter Gardens which would remove the immediate threat of demolition, and St George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth, which has been given funds through the Sea Change programme, introduced under the Labour government.
TBAR was started in 2006 by the Theatres Trust to identify important theatres and to work alongside other heritage lists. The Theatres Trust was founded in 1976 to protect theatre buildings, both in use and disused, throughout the UK.
¥ Derby Hippodrome looks to be close to its long-awaited reprieve after Derby City Council planning control committee unanimously rejected a proposal for part of it to be demolished and replaced with a multi-storey car park last week.