Cameron Mackintosh pledges £25k to London fringe theatres

There are plans for plans for three residential flats to be developed above the Finborough auditorium. Photo: Matthew Turner The Finborough Theatre in west London. Photo: Matthew Turner
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Cameron Mackintosh is ploughing £25,000 into a new fund designed to help small London theatres in need of repair and improvements.

The London Theatres Small Grants Scheme is being established by the Theatres Trust and follows a report in 2013 by the London Assembly called Centre Stage. This found that more than 75% of the capital’s small theatres need significant upgrade or renovation.

One of its recommendations was the formation of a fund for smaller venues in the city, which the trust has taken forward in partnership with London mayor Boris Johnson.

Mackintosh’s donation will fund the first year of the scheme, which will award grants of up to £5,000 for small capital projects. It is open to small theatres from both the commercial and subsidised sector, as well as amateur companies and open-air venues. To be eligible, venues must have fewer than 300 seats if located in central London, and no more than 500 in outer London.

The grants will aid venues in need of urgent repair, capital works, environmental improvements or improvements to their physical accessibility.

Speaking about his donation, which has been made through the Mackintosh Foundation, Mackintosh said that the “smaller theatres of London provide an irreplaceable training ground for creative talent both on and off the stage”.

“They are a major reason why British theatre is the envy of the world and the West End stage delivers so many brilliant productions…They desperately need capital sums spent on their fabric to enable them to continue to operate safely,” he said.

Johnson added that small theatres are the “seedbeds for the writing, production and acting talent that are crucial to the success of our city’s world-beating Theatreland”.

He urged more individuals and companies to donate to the fund.

Tom Copley, who led the London Assembly’s cross-party economy committee’s report, said London venues faced “the risk of closure” without financial support.

“Small theatres need our continued support to grow and flourish,” he said.

The trust is hoping that Mackintosh will support the fund in coming years, but is calling on other donors to invest in the initiative.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and producer Judy Craymer have also donated money to a scheme led by the Theatres Trust. Both put £125,000 into the Theatres Protection Fund, which helps theatres across the country that are struggling financially.