‘Theatre at Risk’ Streatham Hill Theatre gets a helping hand

Streatham Hill Theatre is one of London’s most lavish ‘sleeping beauties’ and the last theatre designed by W G R Sprague, the architect responsible for some of the most beautiful theatres in London. It has been on the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Register since 2017.

Many parts of the building have been unused since performances ceased in 1962 and except for a small lounge used for gambling machines, the building has not been used since January 2017. The building’s fabric is degrading and there is the threat of future commercial development by the freeholder. This support will contribute to the crowdfunding campaign that Friends of Streatham Hill is running to fund a viability study and other vital steps needed to return the theatre to community use. The viability study will be important in proving a viable and sustainable future use for the building and in bringing other stakeholders on board. Streatham Hill Theatre is one of six theatres to receive funding through the second round of the Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme, run by the national advisory body for theatres. The others are Brighton Hippodrome, Derby Hippodrome, Granada in Walthamstow, Groundings Theatre in Portsmouth and Leith Theatre. The programme is designed to support theatres on the Theatres Trust’s 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 funding, the theatre will receive support and advice from the Theatres Trust advice team. Friends of Streatham Hill Theatre’s Chair David Harvey says: “This grant will help make it possible for the Friends to demonstrate how this beautiful building can be saved for the community. Revived as a vibrant space for arts, culture and entertainment as well as a coworking environment for new and growing small businesses, we believe it can help regenerate the local high street and wider area. This has become even more urgent as the local community and economy need to rebuild when we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis. The grant adds to funds pledged by nearly 450 individual supporters, the Mayor of London, and Lambeth Council. We thank everyone for their support and look forward to being able to reopen the building well before its 100th birthday in 2029.” Theatres Trust Architecture Advisor Claire Appleby says “We know how difficult it can be for theatres to raise funding for the early stage concept and viability works and for organisational support. These first stages of a project provide the vital foundations for both project and organisation, and we hope that with this support, these theatres will be able to make real progress.” Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme is supported by Historic England, The Pilgrim Trust and Swire Charitable Trust. Sue Bowers of the Pilgrim Trust says: “The Pilgrim Trust recognises the importance of supporting theatres at risk to save their buildings and give them a viable and sustainable future. This is not just because so many of the buildings are of outstanding significance, but also because a restored, vibrant and well visited theatre building can assist with the regeneration of the centres of our towns and cities. We are delighted to be funding this programme.” Martha Allfrey Trustee of the Swire Charitable Trust says “The Swire Charitable Trust is delighted to be supporting the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme. We applaud its goal of removing vulnerable theatres from the Theatres at Risk Register, thus securing the future of these vital cultural, community and heritage assets. Theatres Trust’s unique and intense work with these theatres can lend support in so many ways, offering exciting opportunities to the community and campaign groups involved – we will follow the progress of each project with great interest.”

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