Following the announcement of the Capital Kickstart Fund Jon Morgan, director of Theatres Trust, commented:
“News that more than 30 theatres will receive funding through the Capital Kickstart Fund is very welcome. Having highlighted to government the plight of theatres whose capital projects had been subject to delays and increased costs due to the pandemic, Theatres Trust is pleased that theatres such as Mercury Theatre in Colchester, Camden People’s Theatre and Octagon Bolton will be able to complete works that will provide new and enhanced facilities for engaging with their local communities, keep theatres operational and improve their environmental sustainability.
However, while this funding is welcome, it is just the tip of the iceberg of the investment that is needed if our theatres are to remain fit for purpose for 21st century audiences and artists. Theatres Trust research has identified more than 80 other theatre building projects that are in development, many of whom have reported average delays of 18 months due to the financial impact of Covid. With most theatres’ reserves exhausted surviving the lockdown, the usual funding sources diverted towards the pandemic response, and against a backdrop of historic under-investment in our theatre infrastructure due to reducing lottery funds, theatres must be considered as part of wider government investment in infrastructure.
An investment in repairing and upgrading our theatre fabric would not only preserve our wonderful theatre heritage, it would ensure theatres are able to offer wider access and community facilities, a welcoming comfortable space for diverse communities and it would ‘green’ these important public buildings by reducing their CO2 emissions. Beyond that, Theatres Trust research has shown that an average investment of around just £11m in 50 theatres across England over the next four years would generate long-term social and economic benefits to their communities, towns and cities amounting to more than 13,000 new jobs and an £880m contribution to local economies, supporting both the construction sector and the high street. An investment in theatre infrastructure projects would make a major contribution to the country’s post Covid recovery, promoting wellbeing and a sense of place, animating the high street and contributing significantly to local businesses and the wider economy.
Theatres Trust welcomes news that a further £300m in grants and £100m in repayable loans will made available. We would hope that a high proportion of this will go to the performing arts sector and particularly those in Tier 3, which have been unable to reopen.”