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Theatre Royal Margate at risk as takeover collapses Stephen Joseph Theatre to offer acting degree with Coventry University

Mathew Hemley

The future of the Theatre Royal Margate is in jeopardy, after a planned takeover by London’s Soho Theatre collapsed.

The Theatre Royal Margate – currently one of the Theatres Trust’s most at-risk venues – is owned by Thanet District Council and is being run on a temporary basis by Your Leisure, which took on the running of the building after the Margate Theatre Royal Trust went into administration in 2012.

A viability assessment was carried out in 2014 to see how it could become financially self-sufficient, with the lease for the building then put out to tender.

Soho Theatre Company won the bid, on the understanding it would secure funding to carry out substantial works to the building.

However, it has emerged that Soho Theatre was unsuccessful in securing the necessary funding, and has since stepped away from the proposed arrangement.

A spokeswoman for Soho Theatre said: “We have helped to explore a number of possibilities for the future of the Theatre Royal Margate, together with Thanet Council, the Theatres Trust and other interested parties. But any such plans are likely to require a significant amount of capital funding and at present this is unidentified.”

She added: “There are no clear plans for us to take the building on, but we will continue to offer any support that we can to the local councils and stakeholders to try to secure a positive outcome for the future of the venue, which was added to the Theatres Trust’s at Risk Register in January.”

Soho Theatre had applied for more than £4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to work on the project, which would have included the creation of a restaurant, bar and hotel alongside the theatre.

However, HLF rejected the application “in light of the available budget”.

Built in 1787, the town’s theatre is a grade II-listed building.

Giverny Masso

Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre has partnered with Coventry University to launch a BA acting degree.

The audition process for the course is entirely free, with the aim of attracting students from lower-income backgrounds.

Commencing in September 2019, the threeyear course will train students in acting for stage, TV and radio as well as introducing them to techniques including presenting, corporate role-play, vlogging and acting for gaming.

The course, which costs £7,350 a year, will mainly be based at Coventry University’s campus in Scarborough, but will include regular visits to the Stephen Joseph Theatre for masterclasses.

Students will receive mentoring from SJT staff in areas such as marketing, producing, fundraising, and technical and stage management.

In their third year, students will have the opportunity to audition for the SJT to be part of a professional acting company.

SJT artistic director Paul Robinson said: “There’s been much talk about making access to acting training more affordable, but we still see drama schools charging £60 to £70, and often more, for auditions.

“Our course will see the first round consist of self-taped audition speeches – on, for instance, a smartphone – allowing us to keep the audition process manageable, free and appropriate by employing the contemporary digital techniques that are becoming more and more a part of our standard industry practice.”

Kay Fraser, acting pro-vice-chancellor of Coventry University, said: “We want to train actors in the broadest possible skillset to market themselves as professionals and increase their chances of employment after they graduate.”

Coventry University acting tutor Paul Elsam with Kay Fraser and Paul Robinson

TONY BARTHOLOMEW

The first intake for the course will be about 20 students. Applications can be made via UCAS.

Theatre N16 faces homelessness for third time

Mathew Hemley

Fringe company Theatre N16 is facing an uncertain future after being made homeless for the third time in three years.

The theatre originally opened in Stoke Newington in 2015, but was forced to move to Balham later that year when the management of the pub it was in changed hands. Its time in Balham was cut short at the end of 2017

when the owners of the pub announced plans to redevelop the space.

In 2018, it found a new premises in Styx in north London, but it has emerged that this venue is now closing and will be knocked down.

Artistic director Jamie Eastlake said he was “undecided as to how the future will pan out in terms of where or what Theatre N16 will become”.

He said the theatre had supported 300 productions in “risk-free deals” and had given thousands of creatives their first breaks, adding that his team feel they “have a huge role to play in the industry”.

“We are risk takers.We have come up against so much and fought it. We remain the little people trying to do good in the toughest circumstances.Whatever happens next, whatever we become, this journey with all these people has been worth every second,” Eastlake said.

He said more details of the theatre’s future would be announced in due course.

October 11 2018

A £10 million project to develop immersive technologies in the creative industries is being launched. The centre for immersive storytelling will be run by the National Film and Television School and Royal Holloway University of London.

Opera North has launched a bid to raise £5 million towards expanding its Leeds home. It has raised £12.7 million, but has set a target of raising the remaining £5.3 million through a campaign, Music Works, which is seeking donations from trusts, foundations, businesses and the public. The Actors Centre in London has partnered with mental health group Talk to hold weekly support sessions. Talk was set up by actors Christian Edwards and Harry Long to create a community for people experiencing mental health issues. The organisation will be based at the Actors Centre.

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Arts leadership must keep up with the changing society, a report for the Arts Council has claimed. It sets out a number of “challenges” facing arts leadership in England, such as the need to be more diverse, responsive to financial instability, receptive to technology and innovation, and less hierarchical.

York Theatre Royal has revealed £50,000 plans for an outdoor performance space. The venue plans to transform its outdoor patio garden into an “accessible, attractive and easy to maintain space” that can be used by theatre audiences and the community.

Producers of a temporary Shakespeare theatre in York this summer are seeking permission for it to return for the next two years. Lunchbox Theatrical’s pop-up Rose Theatre is a full-scale replica of its 16th-century namesake.

Ambassador Theatre Group has appointed Katy Arnander to the new role of content development director. Currently director of artistic programme at Sadler’s Wells, she will increase the range and diversity of ATG’s output.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has become the latest Theatres Trust ambassador, joining Beverley Knight, Kwame KweiArmah and Samira Ahmed.

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