Following a substantial donation from The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation to the West Yorkshire Playhouse redevelopment project, plans have been confirmed to create a new studio space within the theatre, which will be named The Bramall Rock Void. This sizable contribution to the redevelopment in 2018 goes almost half way to achieving the target of £2.3m required to supplement the generous funding of the project anticipated from Leeds City Council and Arts Council England.
Built into a rock void that currently sits underneath the theatre’s box office, this dedicated, flexible and intimate new third auditorium will support the Playhouse’s commitment to developing new artists and continue to give space to its award-winning Creative Engagement programme.
The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation has been a committed supporter of West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Creative Engagement programme for many years, and has previously backed the opening of First Floor (the Playhouse’s dedicated space for young people) as well as community engagement work that has happened across Leeds and West Yorkshire, and the Playhouse’s artist development programme. Their continuing support of the Playhouse will also extend and deepen the theatre’s reach during the redevelopment and on reopening.
The redevelopment of West Yorkshire Playhouse will mark a new chapter in the theatre’s history. As well as creating the new Bramall Rock Void, the redevelopment proposes to transform and modernise the building improving access to and around the theatres and a new city-facing entrance. The project which is managed by Leeds City Council has a total budget of £14m. Anticipated funding for the project is made up of £6.6m from Arts Council England (ACE), £4.335m from Leeds City Council and a £3.032m injection from the Playhouse’s own resources (including fundraising). The donation from The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation has helped to give the fundraising an early and very welcome boost.
Construction work will begin at the Playhouse from Summer 2018, continuing through to Autumn 2019. The theatre will remain open during the redevelopment works, presenting a season of work in a new pop-up theatre on-site.
Liz and Terry Bramall said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be able to support the creation of a new and exciting theatre space as part of the Playhouse redevelopment and to lend it our name. The Bramall Rock Void will be a unique space for new work and a wonderful platform for Yorkshire based artists and creatives. Our Foundation has supported James, Robin and the Playhouse team for many years now, and we are very proud of the work the theatre delivers and the support it offers young people and the wider Leeds and Yorkshire communities. The Playhouse is a huge asset for our region and we are delighted to be able to help to secure its long term future.”
West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “The Bramall Foundations’ support over recent years has made a huge impact on West Yorkshire Playhouse. Their commitment to the theatre has been a vital and crucial element in us being able to realise our ambitions as a leading regional theatre with an award-winning and industry-leading creative engagement team. The new Bramall Rock Void space will help us to develop the Playhouse’s reputation as an innovative and nurturing organisation that works hard to retain Yorkshire born and based talent in the region.”
West Yorkshire Playhouse Executive Director Robin Hawkes said: “We are delighted to be able to recognise the incredible support and commitment the Bramall Foundation has shown the Playhouse. The Bramall Rock Void will ensure that we continue to programme new and emerging work as part of our core programme and deliver it in a more financially sustainable way. I am very grateful for the support we receive from the Bramall trustees and their personal engagement in our work is also very inspiring. Their faith and enthusiasm in this project has been a key driver for us.”