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Exclusive: Contract for new Streatham theatre won by local theatremakers

Artist's impression of Streatham's new 120-seat venue
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Theatre professionals from south London have won the contract to run a new venue in Streatham.

Think Tank, a group comprising eight actors and theatremakers from the area, has won the bid to run the new 120-seat venue, which will be part of a mixed-use development.

The group beat Theatre N16 and Lost Theatre, which were shortlisted from 18 bidders, to win the contract from developer London Square.

The theatre, which has yet to be named but has been referred to as Streatham Hill Theatre, is expected to open in the spring of 2018.

Andy McKeane, director of Think Tank, told The Stage that the group saw its bid for the contract as “an opportunity to think again about what theatre should do”.

“We live in this area and believe theatre should make this area a hit of creativity. Our experience of working in more commercial theatre… is that it’s centralised in London, and we wondered how we could bring this into our area to benefit the people who live here,” he said.

McKeane said the space, which Think Tank will name, will have a varied programme, including theatre, comedy and music. “We want to contact people who would not necessarily go into a theatre. We can use comedy, music and various other things as a gateway to get more people into the building.”

The initial programme will be based around visiting companies, but Think Tank wants to develop work in-house in the long term.

McKeane is an actor and also facilities manager for Battersea Arts Centre, experience that gave him the skills to run the Streatham venue, he said.

“Young, modern actors have to do a lot of things. That has helped inform how we do this, as everyone has had to develop other skills to survive,” he added.

The director said Think Tank would be launching a crowdfunding campaign this year to raise money for the venture, and would also be applying to trusts and funds. He added that a membership scheme would be launched to raise extra funds.

“We have a lot of things to do and a lot of people to contact but we are really excited to start getting to know Streatham as Think Tank and putting everything together,” he said.

London Square development director Mark Smith said the theatre would create an “exciting focus for Streatham” and added: “We are proud to be enhancing the arts and cultural scene.”

Last year, plans for the theatre were redrawn following criticism about the size of the venue.

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