Morecambe Winter Gardens, just one of 49 UK theatres at risk. (Photo: The Theatres Trust)
UK - 49 theatre buildings across the UK are at real risk of being lost unless owners recognise they are responsible for community assets and work with trusts and local communities to secure their future, says The Theatres Trust.

Publishing its 2012 Theatre Buildings At Risk Register (TBAR) today, changes since 2011 highlight how a lack of care and investment leaves theatres particularly vulnerable to neglect whilst opportunities to harness the social and cultural value of theatres are being lost. It also shows how local champions, with the support of councils, grant making trusts and Lottery distributors are providing a new lease of life for theatres at risk.

The passing of the Localism Act in November 2011 and its emphasis on social well-being means local authorities now have to prepare lists of assets of community value, which include cultural interests such as theatres. The Trust's hope is that this will encourage more owners of theatres at risk to realise that their theatres are assets - for the community and the country.

Mhora Samuel, Director of The Theatres Trust said: "There's good news that overall the number of buildings on our Theatre Buildings At Risk Register has come down from 56 last year to 49 this year. And we're pleased some have found the funds and support they so desperately needed, such as Wilton's and the Gaiety in Ayr. However we've also lost some important venues and I'm very concerned about the future of the 17 theatres we've added to the Register including the Theatre Royal in Margate, Darlington Arts Centre and Croydon Warehouse."

24 theatres have been removed from the 2011 Register including the Grade II* Wilton's Music Hall in London and State Cinema in Grays, the Category B Ayr Gaiety in Scotland and the unlisted Conwy Civic Hall in Wales. Wilton's has received funds from SITA Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund which mean the capital works needed to secure the building's future can now proceed. The State, Grays, received planning permission for a mixed use leisure and retail development in January this year. Ciwb Conwy Cube, the Community Interest Company formed to take on the Conwy Civic Hall has been able to take over the running of the venue with some funding from its local council and it has reopened. And the Ayr Gaiety has secured vital funding from the Scottish Government and South Ayrshire Council to enable it to appoint a development officer, undertake an initial programme of capital works, and reopen later this year.

However, some of those lost from the 2011 Register have been demolished including the Waltham Forest Theatre in Lloyd Park (demolished August 2011); lost through change of use, including the Grade II Bedford Civic; or have been granted Listed Building Consent for demolition such as the Brighton Astoria.


The top theatres at risk in the 2012 Register in England include the Brighton Hippodrome (Grade II*), Margate Theatre Royal (Grade II*) (new 2012), Morecambe Winter Gardens (Grade II*), Plymouth Palace (Grade II*), Alexandra Palace (Grade II), Burnley Empire (Grade II), Derby Hippodrome (Grade II), Doncaster Grand (Grade II), Hulme Hippodrome (Grade II), Hulme Playhouse (Grade II), Hyde Theatre Royal (Grade II), Tameside Hippodrome (Grade II), The Regent, Great Yarmouth (Grade II) (new 2012), Victoria, Salford (Grade II) (new 2012), Farnham Redgrave (not listed) and Scarborough Futurist (not listed).

Though not listed, Darlington Arts Centre, the Precinct Theatre, Islington, and Croydon Warehouse have been added to the 2012 Register, as redevelopment plans are affecting the provision of their replacement. Darlington Borough Council closed the Arts Centre in 2012 and plans to develop a new arts centre are yet to be finalised. The Precinct Theatre in Islington is yet to find a new home as a result of the redevelopment of the Packington Estate, and it is unclear what impact the loss of the Croydon Warehouse, which went into r

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