The long awaited and much anticipated move to our new theatre and creative hub in Brixton has taken a major step forward. On Friday, February 28 2020 a topping out ceremony was held where a ceremonial bolt was inserted to the roof of the new site in Coldharbour Lane.
The scheme, which will be completed in the Spring next year, following the sale of our Kennington site and securing a £3million grant from the Arts Council England.
The new Brixton theatre has been designed by Edmund Wilson of Foster Wilson Architects as a fully accessible space for both artists and audiences. There will be two theatre spaces, rehearsal studios as well as high-quality training facilities and spaces for use by the local community.
Deborah Bestwick MBE, current Director of Ovalhouse, said: “We’re bringing theatre back to Brixton. It is wonderful to see the structure go up and the space take shape. We look forward to welcoming new friends as audiences, participants, trainees and new staff members.”
“The new theatre will offer a new generation of theatre companies and artists a space to develop their work in Brixton and beyond. We are hugely grateful to our funder Arts Council England and partner Lambeth Council, and to the charities who have kickstarted our fundraising campaign including Cockayne, The Wolfson Foundation and The Garfield Weston Charitable Trust.”
The theatre has a long history of supporting new talent and offering artists and theatre makers a launchpad into the arts. Alongside the opening of the main theatre, the organisation has also been working with local Brixton primary schools and architects MATT+FIONA to construct a temporary theatre in the spring.
Matthew Bennett is our Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes, said: “I’m delighted we have reached this important milestone on what is a brilliant project for Brixton. Adding a world class theatre with a youth and community focus to the heart of Brixton supports so many of our aims as an organisation.”
“This represents a huge cultural and financial investment on behalf of local people, and I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say we are eagerly anticipating the theatre opening its doors.”
Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries said: “This is such an exciting moment for Ovalhouse. The new theatre will be a brilliant addition to Brixton’s already thriving creative scene. Ovalhouse will be able to inspire more audiences and support many more artists, musicians, performers, writers and producers. Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to make it happen.”
Gavin Bridge, Managing Director of Galliford Try Southern, commented: “It’s great to be able to celebrate the progress we have made on what is such a significant project for Lambeth Council and the theatre.”
“It is always gratifying to work on schemes such as these which deliver lasting change to local communities and we look forward to finishing the project now and seeing the theatre up and running.”
Throughout the year the theatre co-produces a series of ‘FiRST BiTES’ developed with emerging artists, as well as, participation and learning programmes for all ages and backgrounds, such as current projects ‘Imagining Futures’ in partnership with NHS and SLaM supporting vulnerable young women aged 14-18 and ‘Demonstrate’ an ongoing engagement and performance workshop for autistic young people and their families and carers.
The theatre will continue their commitment to developing new work and engagement for all in their new home. There will be an offsite programme of work launching in throughout 2020 before the doors open to the new theatre in 2021.
Image © Piers Allardyce, 2020.