Llandudno Grand Theatre could return to cultural use under new owner
Llandudno’s derelict Grand Theatre could return to cultural use now the building’s sale has been finalised.
New owner MBI Hotels bought the theatre for £140,000 at auction in March, and has said in a statement that it hopes to restore the Grand “in the best interests of the town”.
“We are trying to give something back to the town with job creation. We wanted to make sure it went into the right hands, but everything is still in the planning stage,” managing director Simon Moppett said.
MBI Hotels has already invested around £4 million in the area as part of the nearby Llandudno Bay Hotel and Spa and, since acquiring the Grand, has been working with the Llandudno Seaside Buildings Preservation Trust, which was at the forefront of a campaign to save and reopen the grade II*-listed theatre.
Mark Pavey, working on behalf of the trust, told The Stage that he hoped the theatre could have a future as a “hub for social enterprise”, which would include maintaining the building as a performance venue.
“I want there to be a performance space, and I want that to be a fringe, everyman theatre. It should be able to cater for the stuff that the large theatre [Theatr Cymru] nearby struggles with because of its design. The Grand is a theatre, it was built as a theatre, and it has got to be retained,” he said.
Pavey said that the trust was in the process of applying for funding from bodies including the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Architectural Heritage Fund. If successful, this could secure the building’s future as an arts centre.
“[MBI’s] work with the trust is based on their confidence in me to gain this funding, which is of course uncertain work… We need to do some direct fundraising and reach out to people that can help us,” Pavey added.
Since closing as a theatre in 1985, the building had been used as a nightclub until shutting completely in 2013.
Rebecca Morland, theatres adviser for the Theatres Trust, said: “The Theatres Trust is pleased that an owner has been found for the Grand. As a grade II*-listed building designed by the internationally renowned Edwardian theatre architect Edwin O Sachs, it is of considerable importance. The building needs substantial work to address its structural condition. Its under-stage equipment is very rare and its lavish auditorium is particularly fine. We intend to engage with the new owners as soon as possible about their plans.”
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