North Shields Exchange Theatre faces eviction

Published: 26 March 2023
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Save the Exchange Credit: Equity UK

In a move that echoes the eviction of VAULT Festival from his usual home in London's Waterloo, North Tyneside Council is evicting The Exchange Theatre charity in order to bring in a private, more commercial tenant.

Performing arts trade union Equity has written to the Mayor, Norma Redfearn DBE (Labour), in a bid to prevent the charity from losing its place at Saville Exchange which it has called home for seven years. The Council has a Labour majority (49 of 60 seats).

The union is also petitioning the Council, highlighting the drop in cultural offering for the area and loss of work for local Equity members. No support has been offered to the charity to find new premises, although their work is a valuable contributor to the local cultural scene, including arts and culture exhibitions and theatre productions, employing local people and supporting community groups.

Dominic Bascombe, Equity Regional Official for North East, Yorkshire and Humberside, said, “we appreciate that the council is seeking commercial investments, but this should proceed on the basis that a venue offering real cultural value is maintained or at least supported in finding an alternative place, or even better, properly supported to work within a commercial setting.

“The focus of North Tyneside Council seems to be on buildings rather than enhancing the cultural value on offer. This is simply wrong. We know that when arts and culture is diminished there is a long-lasting impact on local communities.

“We are also keen to secure commitment from North Tyneside Council that all work taking place at the Saville Exchange and cultural venues across North Shields will operate under agreed trade union agreements.”

The Exchange Theatre charity is due to be evicted by 17 April. Supporters may sign an online petition.

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