West End still a smash, but London's marginal theatres face a struggle

New report paints a depressing picture  for the smaller venues  throughout the capital

The West End may be flourishing but the capital’s diverse range of smaller theatres are facing a struggle to survive, a new report warns.

Half the capital’s small venues fear financial pressures could force them out of business.

The report, called Centre Stage, compiled by the London Assembly, has found the city’s fringe theatre is under threat from rising rents and costs, a fall in consumer spending and arts funding cuts.

Many landlords are also looking at selling venues to take advantage of London’s soaring property prices.

Of the 105 small theatres in the city covered by the report, 50 per cent said they were “insecure” about the future, while one in five felt “very insecure”.  As many as a third of theatre managers said their venues were at risk of being be sold off or converted by developers.

Tom Copley led the investigation into the issues facing London’s smaller venues on behalf of the London Assembly.

He said it was clear the smaller venues “are facing real difficulties” especially at a time when landlords increasingly feel it would be more lucrative to redevelop sites into luxury apartments. He continued: “It would be a terrible loss to the capital if these venues were allowed to disappear.”

London has close to 200 theatre venues and over 32,000 theatrical performances each year, according to the World Cities Culture Report. Its major commercial and subsidised theatres shrugged off the “Olympic effect” with the ninth successive year of record box office returns in 2012.

Yet the report found a different picture outside Theatreland. Mr Copley said: “We could see the real renaissance of small theatres in London coming to an end. Then over time there will be a decline if nothing is done.”

The report is partly a call to arms to protect the capital’s small theatres, including lobbying the Mayor to appoint a new ambassador to bring the sector together to respond to the raft of challenges.

It sets out suggestions to help put the groups on more secure financial footing, boost audiences and make it easier for them to raise funds to repair the buildings.

Among the recommendations is that small theatre groups should protect their buildings by getting their names on lists of “assets of community value”.

This would them a six-month window to bid for a venue should the owner decide to sell. More small groups should apply for Arts Council funding, while the Greater London Authority should set up a fund to help theatres in an attempt to draw in philanthropic support it said.

The report also calls on Transport for London to enable venues to advertise in tube, rail and tram stations by replacing out-of-date poster or filling empty spaces with promotional material for local productions. Venues should combine marketing efforts, it added.

“These are places where actors, producers and directors hone their skills and where hundreds of new productions are staged every year,” Mr Copley said.

The need to renovate buildings is the most serious medium to long-term risk facing London’s small theatres, the report found.

Of the theatre managers quizzed, 75 per cent said “significant repairs or upgrades” were required. This ranged from plumbing problems, damaged roofs and disabled access to sound-proofing, insulation and better seating.

Despite a pressing need to address the structural issues, 93 per cent of respondents were yet to raise the money to carry out the work.

The report said “theatres need the right support from funding organisations” such as the GLA and its regeneration funds and the Arts Council’s capital programme to tackle the necessary work.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture