In honour of World Theatre Day, we invited The Theatres Trust to write a guest post about their work
In his 2014 World Theatre Day message, South African playwright Brett Bailey identifies the many and varied spaces where theatre is performed. From West End theatres to village halls to open air venues, The Theatres Trust cares about all of these. And as the national advisory body for theatres, we have been promoting and protecting them since 1976.
We’re probably best known for our role as a statutory consultee in the planning system. But we also provide advice to individuals and groups responsible for running theatres and promote the better protection of theatres at local and national levels. We also run conferences and workshops, provide small grants for capital works and manage a Resource Centre for the study of theatre building design and history.
Read on for updates from our main areas of work and to see how you can be involved in protecting the future of theatres.
As well as providing one-to-one advice, The Theatres Trust develops the debate on what makes a good theatre through its Annual Conference. This year Conference 14: Community Theatres will be held at the City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds on April 28, and will look at the role that local groups increasingly play as providers of theatre spaces in their communities. Come along to join the discussion on Community Rights, to learn about funding opportunities for community theatres, and to hear some inspiring case studies. If you register now, you might just catch our discounted early bird rates. We’ll also be at PLASA Focus the following day, so you can see us at Stand R-E04 at Leeds Armouries and learn more about what we do.
Delegates at Conference 13 Thriving Theatres
The Theatres Trust offers grants of up to £5,000 for capital works to theatre buildings. We’ve provided 22 grants since 2012. Recent recipients include one of the rarest surviving music halls, Hoxton Hall, and the community-owned and volunteer-run Beccles Public Hall & Theatre. Our grants have contributed towards many success stories over the last two years. Take the Robin Hood Theatre near Newark, for example. Closed for seven years, this much-loved community venue received a grant to kick start its refurbishment in 2013 and is due to re-open in May 2014.
Theatres at Risk
Our annual Theatre Buildings at Risk Register draws national attention to the plight of those theatres deemed to be most at risk from conversion, demolition or neglect. Our top theatre at risk is currently Brighton Hippodrome. This magical Grade II* sleeping beauty is at risk of conversion to a cinema and restaurant, which would make any future return to live theatre use impossible. Theatres Trust Trustee Dame Penelope Keith DL said, “this comes close to heritage destruction”. As the Planning Application is imminent a 38 Degrees online petition is calling for the Brighton Hippodrome to be saved. You can sign the petition here.
Grade II* listed Brighton Hippodrome Theatre Building at risk 2013
We respond to every planning application connected to a theatre building in England, Scotland and Wales and work hard to ensure that cultural facilities are valued in planning policy. Recently, we’ve also come together with several other organisations to form the Localism Alliance, with the aim of raising awareness of Community Rights. A series of workshops are planned, where you can learn more about the Community Right to Bid and listing Assets of Community Value. These will take place in Bristol on 29 March, Wakefield on 5 April and London on 17 April. Members of The Theatres Trust team will be on hand to answer any questions from theatres or theatre supporters.
Did you know that The Theatres Trust has a Resource Centre for the study of theatres? Based in the heart of London’s theatreland, the Resource Centre provides access to our archive, library and architectural plans. This valuable resource on the history and development of the UK’s theatre buildings is open to all. And if you can’t make it to London, we also have online resources – including a theatres database, image library and educational materials – and can answer enquiries by email.
One of the 30,000 digitised images the Trust holds at part of its Archive and Collections
Membership and Fundraising
We’re a charity, so we rely on the generous support of Friends and Corporate Supporters to perform our work. We’d really like new Friends to join us to celebrate World Theatre Day. If you care deeply about theatre buildings and theatre provision in the UK and would like to support us, membership costs £35 a year and as a Friend you receive regular updates on our work through our magazine and monthly NewsDigest. And if you’re a student, you can take advantage of our special student rate which is just £20 a year!
If you value what we do, you can also donate to the work of The Theatres Trust via Just Giving.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our work and if you have any questions please get in touch!
We’re always pleased to hear from anyone who runs or is campaigning to protect a theatre so don’t hesitate to contact us using the details below.
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