New Producing House for London
London is to have its first new producing theatre since the National was built in 1976. Tomorrow (Monday, 23rd October) the £15m Hampstead Theatre's ground-breaking ceremony will be held, attended by Culture Secretary Chris Smith and actress MP Glenda Jackson. The new building, in Eton Avenue, will replace the old pre-fab which was put up in 1962.
The new building will be very flexible, its elliptical auditorium being able to be configured for audiences ranging in size from 140 to 325. It will include community and education facilities as well as the inevitable bar and cafe. There will be full disabled access.
The current building will continue to be used until the new one is complete in 2002.
The cost of the new theatre will be £15m, of which the theatre has already raised £2.3m, and £10m has come from a National Lottery grant. Partnership funding, yet to be raised, will account for the other £2.7m.
Over the last 12 years under the artistic directorship of Jenny Topper, 35 of the theatre's 119 productions have transferred to the West End or have toured nationally.
Middlehurst Replacement Announced
Rhodri Morgan, leader of the Welsh Assembly, has announced the appointment of a new minister for Culture and Sport to replave Tom Middlehurst who resigned just over a week ago. As expected, his replacement is a Liberal Democrat, Assembly Member Jenny Randerson.
New ACE Advisory Panel
In the wake of the report on regional theatre in England (The Next Stage, the Arts Council of England has set up a new panel to advise on the development of regional theatre. Its functions will include advising on national touring policy, new writing, audience development, cultural diversity, access and training. Part of its remit will be to make the case to government for additional funding for regional theatre.
Chaired by Grahame Morris, who is chair of ACE's Drama Panel, the new body will consist of director Stephen Daldry, actor Toby Robinson, Dorothy Wilson (director of the Midlands Arts Centre), Professor Lola Young (a member of the board of the RNT), and Brian McMaster, who is the director of the Edinburgh International Festival.