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YOUR NEWS2021 Theatres at Risk Register

2021 Theatres at Risk Register

Above: Brighton Hippodrome. Photo: Theatres Trust (2013)

Theatres Trust announces this Year’s Theatres at Risk Register

By Paul Johnson

The Covid-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on the UK theatre industry, causing venues across the country to close and cancel productions, risking companies and jobs.

Theatres Trust, the advisory body for theatres, has assisted many such venues throughout the pandemic with their Theatre Reopening Fund grants, #SaveOurTheatres Crowdfunder campaign, free advice services and assisting on the DCMS working group powerfully advocating for the needs of the sector.

Theatres Trust believes current and future generations should have access to good quality theatre buildings where they can be inspired by, and enjoy, live performance. It champions the future of live performance by protecting and supporting excellent theatre buildings which meet the needs of their communities. It does this by providing advice on the design, planning, development and sustainability of theatres, campaigning on behalf of theatres old and new and offering financial assistance through grants.

Notwithstanding the pandemic, the buildings on the Register, now in its 14th year, remain at significant, and in some cases immediate, risk for other reasons.

This year, thirty-one theatres appear on this vitally important list with one new addition: Co-op Music Hall in Ramsbottom. Although there have been devastating job losses due to the pandemic, relatively few theatre operators have ceased trading and fortunately none of the buildings left empty look to be in imminent danger, so there are no other new additions. The Theatres at Risk Register supports theatres under threat of demolition, redevelopment or permanent closure across the UK, and calls the public’s attention to these buildings, their challenges, opportunities and those who fight for them. Protecting these theatres is an important and ongoing mission for the organisation and the local communities fighting to preserve them.

Every theatre on the list has strong architectural or cultural heritage and, crucially, the potential to be returned to performance use and be a real asset to its community. The Co-op Music Hall in Ramsbottom, near Bury, is a rare and important surviving musical hall from the 1870s. Located on the upper level of a retail and office building, the music hall has been vacant and forgotten for many years, but remains in remarkably good condition. It is now under threat of redevelopment for housing, which would see the sad loss of this remarkable theatre.

Theatres Trust has seen an emerging trend during the pandemic where vacant theatre buildings are sold off by private owners. Grade II listed music hall Hulme Hippodrome is being sold at auction this very week. Its current owner has sadly neglected the building, leaving it in very poor condition although a campaign group has been formed to save the building, which includes Oli Wilson, son of Factory Records founder Tony Wilson, which has ambitions to turn the building into a museum celebrating Manchester’s Musical Heritage. The auction guide price is an unrealistic £950,000, and there is a real worry the building will be sold to a developer who does not appreciate its cultural and architectural value.

Following a difficult year for the theatre sector, none of the theatres on the 2020 list will be removed, but positive steps have been made by several theatres, particularly those receiving additional support through the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme, which provides grants and in-depth advice for the crucial early stages of revival projects. Derby Hippodrome is a Grade II listed variety theatre built in 1914 and a rare surviving example from the era when buildings were constructed for both live theatre and cinema. It has the potential to be rebuilt and restored to live performance use and provide Derby with a large cultural hub suitable for staging productions, which the city currently lacks. Thanks to funding from the Capacity Building Programme, Derby Hippodrome Restoration Trust has been able to appoint consultants to undertake a viability study, an important step in the journey to renovate and re-open this important space.

Leith Theatre is further along its journey to reopening, but its future is not yet secure. While unable to open for most of 2020, Leith Theatre has built on its position as a community venue, entering into a partnership with Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts CIC, allowing the charity to use the kitchen and hall to feed those in need, and has been used as a filming location for several music videos. During lockdown it operated as a foodbank and collected materials for masks. Theatres Trust Capacity Building support has helped the organisation to develop its skills in finance, fundraising and audience development.

Grade II listed Burnley Empire, the town’s last surviving Victorian theatre, received funding in 2019 from the Capacity Building Programme and has continued to make steady progress towards returning to community use. Building works have started and it has been included in Burnley’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone, an indicator that it is seen as a vital part of the area’s regeneration.

Musician and actor Gary Kemp, who is a Trustee for Theatres Trust, says, “As a performer I know how vital theatre buildings are, adding immeasurably to the atmosphere of a show, whether it is music or drama. Every building on the Theatres at Risk list is part of the UK’s cultural and social heritage, but each also holds a special position in their community and with the right support could once more be central to a sense of local pride.”

Theatres Trust Director Jon Morgan says: “This past year has shown that communities value places where they can come together and that audiences miss live performances. While the theatre sector still has challenging days ahead, Theatres Trust believes that theatre will come back stronger than ever and that each building on the Theatres at Risk list has real potential to be a valuable asset to its community, to bring much needed footfall to its town centre and spark regeneration of its area as part of the recovery post-Covid.”

Theatres on the list such as Morecambe Winter Gardens, Swindon Mechanics’ Institute and Walthamstow Granada made progress due to a collaborative approach whereby campaign groups, key stakeholders and local authorities recognise the community and economic value and potential of their local asset. Where this is not recognised the impact is substantial – Dudley Hippodrome is included as a site for redevelopment in a council bid for building a new university hub, and Enfield Council has approved a planning application that will see Palmers Green’s Intimate Theatre in demolished – the Theatres Trust has escalated the case to the Secretary of State, who has the power to overrule the local authority decision.

Theatres Trust is calling for more collaborative creative partnerships between local authorities, theatre owners and operators and community groups to protect all theatres on the list. Collaboration is vital moving forwards both for saving theatres on the Theatres at Risk Register as well as helping theatres manage the continuing challenges of Covid-19.

The 2021 register:

Brighton Hippodrome
Theatre Royal Margate
Victoria Pavilion / Winter Gardens, Morecambe
Dudley Hippodrome
Victoria Theatre, Salford
Spilsby Theatre
Streatham Hill Theatre, London
Groundlings Theatre, Portsea
Theatr Ardudwy, Harlech
Winter Gardens Pavilion, Blackpool
Burnley Empire
Plymouth Palace
Hulme Hippodrome
Century Theatre, Coalville
Walthamstow Granada, London
Leith Theatre
King’s Theatre, Dundee
Tottenham Palace Theatre, London
Conwy Civic Hall
Mechanics’ Institute, Swindon
Intimate Theatre, London
Co-op Music Hall, Ramsbottom
Kings Theatre, Kirkcaldy
Tameside Hippodrome, Ashton-under-Lyne
North Pier Pavilion, Blackpool
Garston Empire, Liverpool
Doncaster Grand
Swansea Palace
Derby Hippodrome
Theatre Royal, Hyde
Theatre Royal, Manchester

Assessment criteria for each theatre is available via: and case studies can be seen on the website:
T: @TheatresTrust F:

Theatres at Risk (Your News)

Theatres Trust announces Capacity Building Programme year 2 recipients.

The Theatres Trust has announced details of the six theatres that will receive a total of £67,500 worth of support.

Following the success of the pilot scheme, the six theatres are:
Brighton Hippodrome;
Derby Hippodrome;
Granada, Walthamstow;
Groundlings Theatre, Portsmouth;
Leith Theatre;
Streatham Hill Theatre.

The programme is designed to support theatres on the ‘Theatres at Risk’ Register to commission expert advice and acquire the skills and knowledge to push forward capital projects to help save their theatres. Alongside the grant, each theatre will receive support from the Theatres Trust’s advice team.

This round of funding will support projects ranging from governance support to viability studies. The theatres are all on the Theatres at Risk Register but are at various stages in their journey to restoration & revival.

The scheme’s funders are Historic England, The Pilgrim Trust and Swire Charitable Trust.

Could You Take the Theatre Photograph of the Year? (Your News)

Could You Take the Theatre Photograph of the Year? (Your News)

By Paul Johnson

Open to amateur and professional photographers alike, Theatres Trust launches launches a new photography competition to celebrate the UK’s glorious theatre buildings and the magic that happens inside them.

Celebrated choreographer and director Matthew Bourne, comedian and actress Miranda Hart and actor Jude Law, all Ambassadors for the Theatres Trust, will be part of the judging panel.
Miranda Hart told Sardines: “Theatre continues to transform me into a childlike state of awe and wonder and I am never freer and happier watching it or making it. So to have the Theatres Trust Photograph of the Year competition as a way to find great talent to capture, curate and celebrate the majesty that is theatre is a wonderful thing. It will be hard not to want to pick them all!”

Open to amateur and professional photographers alike, entries are invited across three categories:

Beautiful buildings:

Highlighting the wonderful architecture of theatre buildings, old or modern, small or grand. This could be the exterior of a building, an inside space or a particular design detail.

Connecting communities:

Celebrating how theatres are central to their communities. This could be a theatre shown as part of its local area or how the theatre brings people together.

Entertaining evenings:

Capturing the joy of going to the theatre. This could be the excitement of a performance or a lively bar / café before a show. Matinee photos are welcome too!

From the category winners, one image will be chosen as the overall Theatre Photograph of the Year.

There is also a special category for younger budding photographers – the Young Theatre Photographer of the Year prize is open to anyone aged 16 or under.

Entrants are also being asked to provide the story behind their photos, whether that is their special connection with the theatre depicted or what the image says to them.

As well as the glory of winning the competition, there are also prizes, courtesy of Theatre Tokens. Each category winner and the Young Theatre Photographer of the Year will win £250 worth of Theatre Tokens, which can be spent in more than 250 theatres across the country. The overall winner will receive an additional £250 of Theatre Tokens.

Photographs must be of a UK theatre and must have been taken within the twelve months prior to the competition closing date.

The competition is open for online entries now with a deadline of 30 March 2020 for submissions.
To enter, you need to visit (where further terms and conditions can also be found):

Judging will take place in April with a shortlist announced in the spring, followed by the winners later in 2020.

The initiative has the backing of the UK’s major theatre operators including Ambassadors Theatre Group, Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, HQ Theatres and LW Theatres – who will promote it to their audiences. Other theatres are encouraged to get in touch with the Theatres Trust if they want to support the competition too.

Theatres Trust awards £25,000 across the UK (Your News)

Theatres Trust awards £25,000 across the UK (Your News)

Theatres Trust has awarded vital funding to five more theatres. Each will receive £5,000 from the Trust’s UK Theatres Small Grants Scheme for projects that enhance accessibility, address urgent repairs, environmental improvements and expand facilities.

One recipient is The Little Theatre Gateshead whose campaign to create a new rehearsal room to improve and expand facilities for its members, patrons and the local community will receive a boost with Theatres Trust funding. The improved provision will help protect future theatre use at this important community hub.

The purpose-built Little Theatre, built in 1943, is the only community theatre in Gateshead and home to The Progressive Players. It is also used by community groups for rehearsal, performance and community events. The theatre’s current rehearsal room is very small and a Theatres Trust UK Small Grant will contribute to a fundraising campaign to create a new rehearsal room above the auditorium. A benefit for members, patrons and the local community, the new room will help ensure the viability of the Little Theatre as a thriving cultural community resource.

Save the Salford Victoria Theatre (Your News)

Save the Salford Victoria Theatre (Your News)

By Christopher Oatway

The Salford Victoria Theatre Trust is a group progressing with plans to restore the Grade II listed theatre in Lower Broughton, currently no.4 on the Theatres Trust’s At Risk register.

A viability study has just been completed that has examined whether there is a viable option for restoring the historic Victoria Theatre. The study summary can be seen by visiting:
After a year of successes, the team at the Salford Victoria Theatre Trust had a truly magical Christmas when the draft of their Viability Study, funded through Theatres Trust’s Theatres At Risk Capacity Building Programme, stated that the former theatre is “of national significance” and concluded that it is “one of the most significant heritage assets in Salford.”

The consultants – made up of Colliers International, Foster Wilson Architects, IKS Consulting and Theatresearch, said: “It is one of few remaining buildings designed by the renowned theatre architect Bertie Crewe – and one of the few that he fully designed: one in Paris and another in London. It opened, with fanfare, in 1900, it has a beautiful and unusual interior, and retains Victorian Scruto stage equipment, elements of which are unique, the only surviving example of such a mechanism in the British Isles.
“The terracotta façade is fine and, once restored, would be a major adornment to the area. The building appears to be relatively unaltered since built, but it has unfortunately experienced neglect by its former owner and deterioration that needs urgent attention. The Victoria has some impressively unique differences from it counterparts in the city and across the UK and it would be great to see it restored as a flexible multi-use events venue plus community hub.”
Spectacularly, they mentioned that “It is unlikely that any other project could make such a positive contribution to regenerating and improving that part of Salford than restoration of the Victoria Theatre” and “does not require major change to become usable again.”
Chair of the SVTT, Sam Kelly expressed: “Whilst it would be phenomenal to have the whole building restored to its original glory of an operational theatre, we are hopeful in looking to achieve the first two steps in a four-phase plan for the restoration, which will see the building operate as a ‘vibrant community hub’ encompassing retail in the entrance, commercial office spaces in the saloon bar, as well as rehearsal and performance areas in the auditorium and stage sections. There is also discussion around a museum or exhibition space in the basement.”
“The building is outstanding and, with restoration, could form an attractive and vibrant hub for Lower Broughton. In order to do so, however, they need the community and local influential partners to get behind it. This needs to happen!”
Claire Appleby of The Theatres Trust supported that: “We are delighted that the viability study had determined a solution to securing the future of this beautiful theatre. The Victoria, which is currently vacant and in poor state of repair, is one of only thirty theatres throughout the UK that is included on our Theatres At Risk register. It is an outstanding Victorian theatre and has potential to become an attractive and vibrant hub for Lower Broughton. We will continue to support Sam and the SVTT team in their ambition to see the future of this significant building secured and call on local people, Salford City Council and local partners and businesses to support them in their vision for both building and community.”
Twitter: salfordvictoria | Facebook: VictoriaTheatreSalford | Facebook: groups/344240118989911