Ambassador Theatre Group approached London’s Old Vic during lockdown with an offer of acquisition, which was “declined immediately and definitively”, the organisation has said.
The not-for-profit theatre, which receives no public funding, has previously spoken about the challenges it is facing during the pandemic, with artistic director Matthew Warchus warning that it is in a “seriously perilous” situation and has launched a critical fundraising campaign to survive.
Asked about reports that ATG had attempted to acquire the theatre, a statement sent to The Stage from the Old Vic said ATG – which owns 32 venues in the UK – “did approach the Old Vic some weeks ago, but this offer was declined immediately and definitively”.
The statement added that it is committed to remaining “an iconic, independent” theatre.
ATG’s move was first reported in the Daily Mail, which claimed the company had offered to take on the Old Vic’s liabilities but allow it to maintain artistic independence.
The Old Vic’s statement acknowledged that while it is experiencing significant challenges as a result of the pandemic, “we are working effectively with our supporters and audiences to deliver and ensure a strong, independent and exciting future for our 202-year-old artistic powerhouse”.
“We are delighted with the news of the government’s package for the arts announced earlier this week and look forward to finding out more about how this will work in practice. In the meantime, the Old Vic is committed to remaining an iconic, independent leading producing theatre, a registered charity with a strong artistic and social mission that delivers emerging talent, education and community projects to 10,000 young people each year,” it said.
ATG did not respond to a request for comment.