Theatres Trust, the national advisory body for theatres, has assisted venues throughout the pandemic with their theatre reopening fund grants, #SaveOurTheatres crowdfunder campaign, free special advice services and more.
Alongside its COVID response programme, Theatres Trust has also continued to support and advocate for theatres on its Theatres at Risk Register, which it publishes each year, highlighting buildings with significant architectural merit and strong community value or potential.
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.
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.
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.
This year, 31 UK theatres appear on this vitally important list with one new addition: Co-op Music Hall in Ramsbottom, near Bury.
The Co-op Music Hall 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.
Other local theatres on the 2021 at-risk list include Hulme Hippodrome; Victoria Theatre, Salford; Tameside Hippodrome, Ashton-under-Lyne; Theatre Royal, Hyde; and Theatre Royal, Manchester.
Grade II-listed music hall Hulme Hippodrome is being sold at auction next week, put up for sale by its current owner Gilbert Deya Ministries, which has sadly neglected the building, leaving it in very poor condition.
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.
Theatres Trust hopes for constructive collaboration with all owners to secure a positive future for these important theatres.
“This past year has shown that communities value places where they can come together and that audiences miss live performances,” says Theatres Trust director Jon Morgan.
“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.”