Research conducted by the Theatres Trust, in conjunction with UK Theatre and SOLT, has found that more than £550million is needed over the next five years for capital projects to upgrade and maintain theatres across the UK.
This figure is based on responses from almost 150 theatres, which represents 10% of active theatres in the UK. Collectively they have spent almost £312million upgrading and maintaining theatre buildings in the past five years.
But continued investment is vital for many of these theatres to continue to serve their local communities with 30% of responding theatres stating that the theatre would be at risk of closure if the works are not carried out.
The main focus of works is to improve long-term viability as 63% and 64% of respondent theatres said the focus was improving income generation and audience appeal respectively, and 52% said the need was in order to reduce operating costs.
Excluding major projects and new builds, these theatres predict they will require an average of £1.15million in capital works over the next five years. These works will ensure theatres continue to attract audiences and can run more efficiently by ensuring technical equipment and audience facilities are modernised, including improved disabled access and environmental performance.
The total amount of investment in theatre buildings needed over the next five years for the UK to meet its cultural and social aspirations is likely to be closer to £1billion, taking into account planned major building projects outside of the theatres who responded
In spite of the challenging economic and funding environment 50% of respondents were either confident or very confident they could raise the funding required for the works, although 24% were unconfident or very unconfident.
Theatres Trust Director, Jon Morgan says “Theatres make an outstanding contribution to local life, culturally, socially and economically and are often at the heart of town and city-centre regeneration. Theatres of all ages and scales need continued investment to ensure they are fit for purpose and meet modern audience needs. The theatres sector is remarkably resilient and resourceful and much of this investment is focused on generating more revenue and reducing costs so they can develop more robust business models. However, with falling public revenues it can be challenging to raise the capital funds required and we risk losing some of our wonderful network of theatres if funding cannot be found. Support for our theatre infrastructure must be addressed in the UK’s local and national culture, planning and regeneration strategies”.
This research is the first stage of our research to give us some initial high level figures. If you have any comments on this research or ideas for areas you think it would be useful to look at, please get in touch with Tom Stickland, Theatres Adviser.