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Portsmouth set to buy Grade 2 listed theatre

Portsmouth City Council has announced plans to buy the New Theatre Royal and safeguard the venue for generations to come.

The potential move comes at a time when the New Theatre Royal Trust, which owns and operates the 650-seat venue, is facing financial difficulties due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

New Theatre Royal has been forced to cancel or postpone all scheduled performances since its closure in March last year.

The grade-two listed building, designed by celebrated architects Frank Matcham and Charles Phipps, is also considered a key heritage asset in the city centre.

An independent survey has found the building to be in generally good condition but with some repairs required in the short term, which the council will make provision for, before passing repairing responsibility back to the trust once it is in a more stable position.

‘The New Theatre Royal is a key part of Portsmouth’s cultural offering and as the only venue of its type and size offers something we don’t have anywhere else,’ said cabinet member for culture, leisure and economic development, Cllr Steve Pitt.

‘It’s vitally important we safeguard it for future generations and not allow it to be lost, particularly because of its huge potential to reach people who don’t currently think about going to the theatre or engaging with culture.

‘It’s location in the city centre means the theatre has the opportunity to broaden people’s cultural horizons, bringing new work and innovative performances to people from all parts of the city, alongside more conventional programming, community performances and comedy.’

The chair of trustees at New Theatre Royal, Simon Eden added: ‘We’re delighted to be working with Portsmouth City Council and to have a clear way forward following a most difficult ten months.

‘We truly believe that we are all going to need theatres more than ever to bring us back together as our community recovers from Covid-19. This rescue package from Portsmouth City Council means that we can be here for our audiences, inspiring them through live performance and participation, for many more years to come.’

Photo Credit – Ballardinix (Pixabay)

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