7 January 2016
West Yorkshire Playhouse Capital Funding Announcement
West Yorkshire Playhouse successful in Stage One application to Arts Council England for capital redevelopment funding of £6.6m.
Arts Council England has announced that West Yorkshire Playhouse was successful in its Stage One application for a grant of £6.6m towards a major capital redevelopment. The decision includes the award of a development grant of £300,000, meaning a fully-fledged plan can now be developed to renovate the 25 year old building, including creating a new entrance facing Leeds city centre, improving access to all the theatre spaces, the upgrading of technical equipment and the addition of a new studio theatre space.
The decision was based on the Playhouse and its partner Leeds City Council submitting a full application outlining the artistic vision for the theatre as well as a comprehensive business plan. It is also based on the commitment of Leeds City Council to contribute up to £4.9m towards the overall project costs of more than £14m. A fundraising campaign will now commence which will seek to achieve this full target.
Executive Director Robin Hawkes said:
‘This is the best possible news with which to start the New Year. We hadn’t been expecting an announcement from the Arts Council until the end of February, so receiving it now enables us to get things moving earlier than anticipated. We will accelerate our work with our partners at Leeds City Council to appoint an architect and to start getting plans in place.’
Artistic Director James Brining said:
‘We have an ambitious artistic vision for what the Playhouse can be for our audiences, artists and communities over the coming years. To have the opportunity to pursue this vision knowing that our building can match and indeed help realise those ambitions is a hugely exciting prospect. The Playhouse is undoubtedly beginning to show its age. We want to be able to welcome people from our region, our country and from across the world to a home of which we are proud. This project marks a step change for theatre in Leeds and feels especially appropriate as we move towards the 50th anniversary of the Playhouse’s inception in 1968.’
Chairman of the Board, Sir Rodney Brooke, said:
‘Having invested in the vision of West Yorkshire Playhouse through my former role as Chief Executive of West
Yorkshire County Council, I’m thrilled that the theatre is embarking on a new chapter. With the support of Arts Council England and Leeds City Council the Playhouse can realise its ambitions and begin the next steps to develop further as a significant and dynamic cultural destination.’
Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake, said:
‘We’re absolutely delighted that the Arts Council is supporting our joint application for a project that will completely transform one of Leeds’s most cherished cultural institutions. West Yorkshire Playhouse is an integral part of our city’s cultural landscape which appeals to a huge range of people and this ambitious redevelopment scheme will be a massive statement of intent about how central the arts are to life in Leeds. The theatre already provides a host activities both on-stage, in the building and in our communities and these proposals will also help to bolster that excellent work still further as the city builds towards submitting an application to be European Capital of culture in 2023. With this excellent news, we can now look forward to working together and seeing the project take some exciting steps towards making the Playhouse a venue befitting of its status as one of Leeds’s foremost cultural flagships.’
The project can now move forwards with the appointment of a design team within the next six months, followed by the development of full plans for the building. Should the Stage Two application prove successful, it is currently expected that construction work will begin on site in the second half of 2017, with completion in late 2018. The construction work is also likely to involve a period of closure for the theatre building, so planning will now also begin in earnest for the continuation of the Playhouse’s programme off-site during that phase.