Total of 39 UK theatres under threat

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The Theatres at Risk Register has identified 39 theatres across the UK that are in danger of permanent closure, redevelopment, or demolition.

Theatres Trust, the charity behind the register, has added two buildings to the list in the form of Sheffield’s Abbeydale Picture House and the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool.

The Abbeydale Picture House, a Grade II listed former cine-variety theatre, has been included as its building fabric has reportedly deteriorated significantly in recent years. This has left its main auditorium unusable.

Epstein Theatre also faces an uncertain future after Liverpool City Council was unable to renew its lease of the building.

The Brighton Hippodrome tops the list as the most at risk as it has recorded the maximum score possible with nine.

Margate’s Theatre Royal, Winter Gardens in Morecambe, Hulme Hippodrome, Plymouth Palace, and Salford’s Victoria Theatre all follow close behind with eight points.

“The changes to the Theatres at Risk Register represent the wider issues we are seeing across the theatre sector,” said Theatres Trust director Jon Morgan

“Squeezes on local authority budgets means many are stepping away from or significantly reducing funding to theatres, while rising costs and scarcity of funding is making it harder to repair, maintain and update buildings.

“We believe that all of these buildings are worth the investment, not only as valuable social and cultural facilities but also for their potential contribution to wider placemaking and regeneration.”

Theatres are assessed based on three criteria – community value, star rating, and risk factor – and are scored between zero and three in each. These are then added together to give a total score.

Dudley Hippodrome was removed from the register due to its demolition last year. It was the only remaining lyric theatre in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley.

The charity claims that despite no theatres have been removed from this year’s list for positive reasons, progress is being made to many that do feature.

In particular because of increased support that it is giving through its Resilient Theatres: Resilient Communities programme of grants, training, and advice.

The Theatres at Risk Register is in its 18th year, after beginning in 2006, and since then more than 80 theatres have been restored, revived, or had a suitable replacement built.