Historic Pavilion Theatre saved in partnership that will see it revived as an immersive theatre venue
Blackpool’s endangered Pavilion Theatre is to be restored as a performance venue, in a move that will see it removed from a register of the most at risk theatres in the UK.
Based within the Winter Gardens Blackpool complex, the Pavilion has not been used as a theatre for more than 20 years, but the renovation will see it revived as both a receiving and producing house.
The theatre is being brought back into use by a partnership between theatre company Selladoor Worldwide and Blackpool Entertainment Company, which manages the grade II-listed Winter Gardens complex and will be responsible for the renovation work.
Selladoor will act as the venue’s programmer and will establish an office in Blackpool as part of the move. The office will be based within the theatre, which is the oldest part of the Winter Gardens complex, built in 1878.
The theatre company said it would “protect and revitalise” the venue, which will be used for event theatre, as well as immersive productions. It said this would “diversify” the offering for Blackpool residents.
Selladoor Worldwide executive creative producer David Hutchinson said: “A town as bold as Blackpool is the perfect location for our northern producing base to make waves in the north of the country. Our decision to base a dedicated team in Blackpool will enable us to focus on cultural development and engagement in the town and surrounding areas.”
He added: “With a new and stimulating programme of work to feature at the Pavilion Theatre, complimented by a broad selection of Selladoor’s touring productions that regularly perform at the Winter Gardens, we are extremely excited to see a town, that is very dear to our hearts, flourish and succeed as its residents deserve.”
Blackpool Entertainment Company managing director Michael Williams said the partnership with Selladoor “heralded an exciting new direction” and added that the complex would be “utilising other spaces in the venue for a wide range of exciting and engaging projects”.
Tom Stickland, theatres adviser at the Theatres Trust, said the restoration would “unlock one of Blackpool’s jewels and help protect it for the future”.
The trust said the theatre had been “progressively deteriorating” since 2013. It has previously estimated that repair work will cost £2 million.
Currently, the theatre is used for exhibitions, though only the ground floor is accessible. The balconies are currently closed to the public and what was the stage is now a restaurant.
In 2017, plans for a museum in the theatre were scrapped after the project became too expensive.