New Job: Old Theatre to New Cultural Centre

With work coming to a head with the cinema, the team are already looking forward to their next job…

…and it looks like we’ll be heading back into the world of the theatre.

It’s always exciting heading into a theatre restoration.

These buildings are often more dilapidated than the usual cinema we renovate, which leads to us having to make much more interesting decisions, especially when it come to structural adaptation and use of space.

The cultural landscape of British theatres has changed immeasurably in the last few decades. There was a time when theatres were strictly places were one would come to watch a show. Matinees performances, evening performances and rehearsals: these were the only uses of a traditional theatre.

Today, because of limitations on funding as well as the waning interest that the paying public has for small scale theatrical productions, modern theatres are having to prove that their spaces can be used for much more than just putting on a show.

Ticket sales can no longer be the only source of revenue for a theatre.

These historical institutions that we work on have done well to survive for so long, especially considering the sheer amount of competition that they have to deal with on a daily basis. In their heyday, there were very few competitors in the world of entertainment. Unless there was a circus in town, you could pretty much guarantee a sold-out crowd every night.

Today though, things are a little different. Consider the other entertainment options that the 21st century punter has at their disposal: Television is still popular but now there’s also video steaming sites such as Netflix which have essentially empowered the viewer as a curator of their own TV channel. Add to this the relatively recent developments of social media and video games – it’s a wonder that there are any theatres still open today!

Luckily, there are some things that a well-run theatre can offer which simply can’t be rivalled by another form of home entertainment.

A modern theatre has to be many things today. It needs to be a hub for community theatre productions, a rehearsal space for upcoming artists and even a venue for alternative one-off performances, such as touring musicians or comedians. A potential cafe or bar also provides an informal environment to relax in which can also be the home of art exhibitions  or children’s cultural activities, it’s also a space that can be hired and adapted for events, so that each and every space of the building can be profitable.

Whilst some have bemoaned this cultural shift from a simple building with a sole-purpose to a more amorphous community focused institution – we see it as a challenge.

Although  we are most certainly still in the development phase of our project, some great ideas have already been thrown about as to how we’re going to transform this Goliath of an old school theatre into a modern, profitable theatre.

We’ll be working hard in the upcoming weeks to find a way of adapting and rebuilding this existing space to fit the modern sensibilities of a 21st century theatre.

Watch this space for more updates!

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