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
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea

film

In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops

film

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
TV
News
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
art
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
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.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game