Council sell-off closes Shaw Theatre

The Shaw Theatre on Euston Road, one of London's largest off-West End venues, is to close at the end of August. The 14-storey office block containing the theatre has been sold by its owners, Camden Council.

Five years ago Shaw man-agement leased the 500-seat theatre from Camden after rate-capping forced the council to cut arts grants. The theatre has broken even since then.

Last year the council, which owns the building's freehold, decided to market the site. It has been bought by Indegree Ltd, and theatre staff have been told to vacate the building by September 1.

Simon Thomsett, the Shaw's manager and artistic director, said Camden's decision had appalled the theatre's 23 staff.

'People have been working 80-hour weeks for very little money to keep this place going. The overheads for a venue like this are enormous but we have succeeded here. Most people would consider that to be a quite an achievement,' he said.

Camden has no commitment to this particular resource. Their only consideration is to ensure that the building is sold.

'The Shaw has had a troubled history, but it is so close to being more than viable. It is easy to close a theatre but much harder to open one.'

Mr Thomsett added that although he would negotiate with the new owners for permission to keep the Shaw open, he had little hope of success.

'We have seen and heard enough to know that they have no interest in maintaining it as a theatre,' he said.

Shaw management offered to buy the block's three lowest floors which house the theatre, leaving Camden to sell the rest of the building, currently occupied by advertising company CDP. However, the council rejected this, deciding the building should be sold as a single unit. Attempts to lease back the Shaw after August so that existing bookings could be honoured broke down last week, leaving several productions searching for alternative venues. Stella Sharman, chairwoman of Lloyd's Dramatic Operatic and Musical Society, which had planned to stage Kiss Me Kate at the Shaw in Nov-ember, said the move now left her only a short time to find a new auditorium.

'We have to find somewhere else because we are hoping to raise several thousand pounds for charity with the show,' she said. A spokeswoman for Camden Council said the Euston Road building had been sold as it was surplus to requirements and expensive to maintain.

'St Pancras library has been moved to the council's headquarters nearby, while office staff formerly based there have also been relocated.

'We have an obligation to get the best possible consideration for our properties.

'It is up to the Shaw Theatre management to liaise with the new owners about their future. The authority gives substantial grants to other arts organisations in the borough.'

The Shaw was opened by Camden in 1971. Appearances there helped launch the careers of comedian Eddie Izzard and singers Tori Amos and Beverley Craven.

Recent productions have included an adaptation of Isabel Allende's House of the Spirits, and Malcolm Taylor's production of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood. On Sunday, comedian Jo Brand headlines The Really Quite Amusing Comedy Benefit in aid of Mencap.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk