The Old Vic has revealed the first details of an £12 million plan to create an on-site education and community hub at its London home, which will allow it to double its work with young people.
It is part of a strategy to expand the theatre’s outreach work and aims to usher in a “new chapter”, in which its social mission plays as big a role as its producing output.
The project will be the next phase in a series of redevelopments which began with the restoration of its front-of-house areas – currently under construction – however, until now the Old Vic has disclosed few details about the proposals.
It has now confirmed that a five-storey annexe will be created in a building next to the Old Vic, in which all of its education and community work will be housed. This will include a flexible studio and rehearsal space, as well as a cafe and bar, becoming a “social and creative hub”.
Creating a new space for this work will enable the Old Vic to double the number of young people it engages with, executive director Kate Varah told The Stage.
She described the plans as a “once-in-a-generation chance”, and said: “Each year, we have 10,000 young people coming in and out to various education and community projects, and this annexe will help us double that. So 20,000 people coming into the building, and this will give us, for the first time ever, a home to put them in.”
The £12 million annexe will be developed in a former pub adjacent to the Old Vic, which the organisation purchased four years ago. It is the only building that physically touches the Old Vic, artistic director Matthew Warchus said, and will mean the education centre will have direct access to the producing part of the Old Vic.
Warchus said the project was “the final key in consolidating our identity and something we very much want to get done within our tenure”, describing it as “a form of future-proofing”.
He said: “We have a very confident identity as a producing theatre in the heart of its community. And so everything that we do at the theatre now is carefully considered in terms of its social mission as well as cultural and artistic excellence. That goes for what is on the main stage, and also all the other satellite projects we have. This new annexe will allow us consolidate that.”
Varah stressed the contribution the annexe would make to the Old Vic’s “vibrant dual identity”, and said both social change and artistic mission were “in the DNA” of the organisation, which operated without funding.
Fundraising for the capital project kicked off at an event in central London last week, which was co-hosted by a series of the theatre’s supporters including Kim Cattrall and Adrian Lester and at which £650,000 was raised.
Further details about the project will be shared in due course, along with a timeline, the Old Vic said.