A theatre in North London has become the highest-profile playhouse to give up competing with this summer's Olympic Games, deciding that it would be more lucrative to rent the venue to one of the visiting teams instead.
The impresario Lord Lloyd-Webber predicted in December that London theatres faced a "bloodbath of a summer" because of tourists going to the Games and other events, adding that advance bookings for West End shows had slumped.
The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, which has staged critically acclaimed plays about the Stephen Lawrence trial and the London riots, has decided against putting on a production during the Games and will instead host officials from the Trinidad and Tobago delegation.
A spokeswoman for the theatre said the Caribbean country's High Commission and Olympic Committee would be "hiring the entire Tricycle for five weeks" and would use it as a "social centre" throughout the period.
The delegation will be free to take charge of programming at the theatre, cinema and gallery with a series of events. It is so far unclear what the team plans for the venue; the High Commissioner was travelling yesterday and could not be reached for comment. It also remains unclear whether the public will be allowed access to the Tricycle during the delegation's residency.
Terri Paddock, the managing editor of Whatsonstage.com, said: "It is a clever move by the Tricycle given the economic situation facing such venues and the arts cuts everyone is facing." Theatres across the capital were thinking of other ways to use their spaces during the day, she added. So far, two theatre companies have been forced to move out as landlords look to take advantage of the spaces for accommodation during the Games, but there had not been the feared rush to cancel productions.
It is also understood that Lord Lloyd-Webber has become more confident about theatre's prospects in the months since making comments before Christmas.
Julian Bird, the chief executive of the trade association the Society of London Theatre, said: "There was a fear of the unknown, but now we are more encouraged. We know the tourism mix this summer will be different and everyone is having to adapt their strategy accordingly. Many are doing innovative things."
The Tricycle is the first theatre to pull down the curtain in favour of hosting a delegation, although the Royal Opera House will show The Olympic Journey, an exhibition about the Games. Other cultural venues have agreed to hire out facilities to teams during the Olympics. The Museum of London Docklands will be the base for the German delegation, and will be closed to the public from 9 July to 16 September.
Alexandra Palace in north London will house the Dutch Olympic committee, the Brazilians will be based at Somerset House in The Strand and the Americans will be at the Royal College of Art in Kensington, west London.