Theatres Trust, the charity that campaigns to protect the UK’s theatres, has published its annual Theatres at Risk Register. 10 theatres have been added to the 2022 Register, far more than in  any recent years, as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is being felt across the theatre sector.  The Theatres at Risk Register has expanded this year to highlight the plight of 41 theatres across the country that are in danger of being lost. 

Now in its 16th year, the Theatres at Risk Register supports theatres under threat of closure,  redevelopment or demolition across the UK, calling the public’s attention to these important  buildings, their challenges, and the significant cultural opportunities they can bring to local  communities. Every theatre on the register has strong architectural merit, cultural heritage or  value to the local community as a performance venue. Crucially, all of them have the potential  to be revived with the right support.  

After nearly two years of the pandemic, the theatre industry, local authorities and private  businesses are all feeling the strain, contributing to the unprecedented number of additions to  the Register this year. The struggles faced by businesses and local authorities have a knock-on  effect that impacts the theatre buildings they own. An emerging trend is for local authorities, in  the face of increasing financial pressure, to look to dispose of the theatre buildings they own,  with no guarantee that they’ll be kept in community use. The local authorities that own Clair  Hall in Haywards Heath, Netherton Arts Centre in Dudley, and Thameside Theatre in Thurrock, all made the decision to sell or redevelop their buildings during the pandemic, leading Theatres  Trust to add them to the Theatres at Risk Register.  

Similarly, former theatre buildings that were in use as bingo halls, pubs or nightclubs are being  sold by their private owners as demand for hospitality businesses was hit by lockdowns. Garrick  Theatre in Southport is being added to this year’s Theatres at Risk list as it was sold by Mecca  Bingo and is now at risk of being redeveloped for residential use. Imperial Theatre in Walsall is also threatened with redevelopment, having previously been a bingo hall and Wetherspoons  pub.  

Aside from the devastating impact of Covid, theatre buildings continue to face the threat of  demolition and redevelopment, as is the case of new additions Amulet Theatre in Shepton  Mallet, Borough Halls in London Borough of Greenwich, and the Roundhouse in Dover. This  would see the loss of buildings where there is a clear local demand for performance venues. The  final two additions to the Theatres at Risk Register, the Globe in Plymouth and the Regent  Theatre in Great Yarmouth, have been empty for several years and their building condition has  now deteriorated to the point that they are in danger of being irreparably damaged. 

David Morrissey, Theatres Trust Ambassador, actor and director, comments, Theatres play a  vital role in communities across the country and in supporting actors like myself who without  their local theatre would not have developed a theatre career. The pandemic has been  devastating for the whole theatre sector, but we must work together to make sure the theatres  on the Theatres at Risk list are supported and protected for future generations to enjoy. 

Theatres Trust Director Jon Morgan says, We are now starting to see the true extent of the  effects of the pandemic on the UK’s wonderful theatre buildings, hitting well-loved community  theatres as well as historic theatres that had been protected by other uses like being bingo halls.  Theatres Trust would urge anyone who owns a theatre building to consider its long-term value as a performance space and work with us to keep these buildings in use for their communities. 

While the present outlook may look bleak, every building on the list still has the potential to  return to use. Since the Theatres at Risk Register began in 2006, 80 of the 187 theatres that  have appeared on the list have been reopened as live performance venues, are under  refurbishment or have a suitable replacement planned. Examples of theatres saved include  Alexandra Palace Theatre, Bradford Odeon, Peterborough New Theatre and Stockton Globe. 

The theatres appearing on the 2022 register are as follows: 

Brighton Hippodrome  

Theatre Royal Margate 

Victoria Pavilion/Winter Gardens, Morecambe 

Dudley Hippodrome 

Hulme Hippodrome, Manchester  

Plymouth Palace 

Victoria Theatre, Salford 

Groundlings Theatre, Portsmouth 

Spilsby Theatre, Lincolnshire

Streatham Hill Theatre, London 

Theatr Ardudwy, Harlech 

Winter Gardens Pavilion, Blackpool  

Burnley Empire  

Garston Empire, Liverpool 

Intimate Theatre, Palmers Green, London 

Mechanics Institute, Swindon 

Tottenham Palace Theatre 

Century Theatre, Coalville, Leicestershire 

Granada, Walthamstow, London 

Leith Theatre 

Joe Longthorn Pavilion, Blackpool 

Roundhouse Theatre, Dover – NEW 

Co-op Music Hall, Ramsbottom 

Doncaster Grand 

Kings Theatre Continental Restaurant and Ballroom, Dundee 

Amulet Theatre, Shepton Mallet – NEW 

Conwy Civic Hall (Cube), Wales 

Derby Hippodrome 

Imperial Theatre, Walsall – NEW 

Borough Hall, London Borough of Greenwich – NEW 

Kings Theatre, Kirkcaldy 

Thameside Theatre, Thurrock – NEW 

Garrick Theatre, Southport – NEW 

Tameside Hippodrome, Ashton-under-Lyne 

Globe Theatre, Plymouth – NEW 

Clair Hall, Haywards Heath – NEW 

Netherton Arts Centre, Dudley – NEW 

Regent Theatre, Great Yarmouth – NEW 

Swansea Palace 

Theatre Royal, Hyde, Cheshire 

Theatre Royal, Manchester 

Assessment criteria for each theatre is available via full case studies on each can be  seen on the Theatres Trust website.

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