UK theatres under threat named on ‘at risk’ register
Brighton Hippodrome, Plymouth’s Palace Theatre and the Victoria Theatre in Salford top this year’s Theatre Buildings at Risk Register, which lists 33 venues around the UK – down from 48 in 2013.
Although the number of theatres highlighted by the annual register has decreased sharply, the Theatres Trust – which compiles the list – has warned the drop is partly down to changes to the way it has been drawn up. From this year, the register focuses solely on venues under immediate threat.
Of the 33 theatres on the list, 28 are in England and five are in Wales. Scotland currently has no theatres facing immediate risk.
In total, 23 venues have been removed from the 2013 register, including six whose futures have been secured. These include the Brewhouse in Taunton, the Tivoli in Aberdeen and the Pier Theatre in Bournemouth.
However, four have been removed because they have been ‘lost’ (closed) – including the RAF Brampton Theatre in Cambridge-shire, Brampton Playhouse in Cumbria, the Warehouse Theatre in Croydon and the Darlington Arts Centre.
Meanwhile, 13 venues have been taken off because they are no longer considered to be under immediate threat.
Eight venues are new to the list in 2014, with the trust claiming many of these are on it because local authorities no longer want responsibility for funding or operating them. These include the Secombe Theatre in south-west London and the Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd. Two venues from Blackpool are new to the register: the Winter Gardens Pavilion and the North Pier Theatre. The trust said the latter “had suffered badly in the winter storms of 2013 and has yet to be repaired”.
Theatres Trust director Mhora Samuel said: “The Theatre Buildings at Risk Register really helps to raise awareness of the plight of many of our most threatened theatres, and makes people much more aware of the beautiful buildings that could be lost forever if action is not taken. On the other hand, I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to take off theatres like the Tivoli in Aberdeen and the Brewhouse in Taunton.
“The big question on the horizon is the extent to which more local authority cuts will lead to further closures. It’s certainly a very worrying trend. The Theatres Trust’s advisers are working hard to help communities and local authorities find possible solutions.”
The Theatre Buildings at Risk Register is published annually, and identifies venues at risk from demolition, change of use, development, sale, decay and neglect, lack of funding and poor building operation.
For the first time this year, venues have also been rated according to how important a venue is to its community, alongside “risks to the building and quality of the theatre”. Morecambe’s Victoria Pavilion and Winter Gardens have risen up the list because of their “strong community theatre rating”.
The Brighton Hippodrome, Plymouth’s Palace Theatre and the Victoria in Salford each scored nine points – the most severe risk rating.
Brighton’s Hippodrome, which was at the top of the list last year, was labelled “the most significant” case for the trust, with efforts ongoing to prevent it from being redeveloped as an eight-screen cinema and restaurant complex.
Meanwhile, the Palace in Plymouth was used as a theatre until 1980 before becoming a nightclub, but has been disused since 2006. The trust said it was supporting the Plymouth Palace Project to develop a business and management plan for the venue.
The Victoria in Salford was used as a theatre until 1973, after which it became a bingo hall. It has been dark since 2007, and is need of urgent repair works.
Other venues near the top of the list include the Tameside Hippodrome, the Dudley Hippodrome and the Coronet in Elephant and Castle, London.
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