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UK theatres need £550m for upgrades within five years – survey

Playground Theatre London's Playground Theatre, one of several venues awarded money by the Theatres Trust earlier this year to address urgent repairs
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Theatres around the UK will need more than £550 million over the next five years to carry out upgrades to their buildings, according to a new survey in which a third of venues have revealed they risk closure if work is not carried out.

The Theatres Trust, working with UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre, has surveyed 148 theatres, which it said represents 10% of active theatres in the UK.

It found that collectively the venues have spent around £312 million in total on upgrading and maintaining their venues over the past five years.

Almost a third – 30% – said they risked closure if further works were not carried out.

Outside of major projects, theatres predict they will each need an average of £1.15 million for capital works, such as improving access and environmental performance.

The total amount of investment needed in theatre buildings, according to the survey, is likely to be closer to £1 billion. This takes into account planned major works outside of the theatres that responded.

However, 50% of respondents were confident or very confident they could raise the money needed.

Theatres Trust director Jon Morgan said: “Theatres of all ages and scales need continued investment to ensure they are fit for purpose and meet modern audience needs. The theatres sector is remarkably resilient and resourceful and much of this investment is focused on generating more revenue and reducing costs so they can develop more robust business models.”

He added: “However, with falling public revenues it can be challenging to raise the capital funds required and we risk losing some of our wonderful network of theatres if funding cannot be found. Support for our theatre infrastructure must be addressed in the UK’s local and national culture, planning and regeneration strategies.”

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