The Roundhouse and Camden People’s Theatre secure grants to upgrade their buildings

CPT has secured £250,000 Arts Counci funding towards a major overhaul of its performance and foyer

CPT has secured £250,000 Arts Counci funding towards a major overhaul of its performance and foyer space - Credit: Archant

Nearly £750,000 has been awarded to the two venues by Arts Council England to fund new seating and upgrade performance and foyer spaces

A 'people's' pub theatre marking its silver jubilee, is to get a transformative revamp thanks to the Arts Council.

Camden People's Theatre in Hampstead Road is among the local arts organisations to benefit from ACE's small grants programme to help "build resilience" by improving equipment and buildings, and make them more accessible.

The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm has secured £500,000 award to install purpose-built seating for their 360 degree space, much loved Hackney Empire, an historic Frank Matcham theatre, was awarded £400,000, Hoxton's Geffreye Museum, currently undergoing a major overhaul, was given £147,000, and Drake Music, a disability and technology charity based in Shoreditch which aims to make music more accessible for disabled people, was awarded £100,000.

But CPT's £250,000 will be a springboard to a major redevelopment of their foyer, performance and rehearsal space.

Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England, said: "ACE is pleased to be investing in capital upgrades to The Roundhouse and Camden People's Theatre, so that these leading independent venues can continue to showcase quality work and provide a welcoming and accessible space for the community."

Michaela Greene, Development and Communications Director at the Roundhouse, said the grant "will have a transformative effect on the experience of our audiences, particularly those with access needs".

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"The new seating structure will allow us to maximise the in-the-round set up that is unique to our building. It means we can increase the number of shows throughout the year enabling us to grow our diverse programme."

Kaya Stanley-Money, Executive Director of CPT said the project ensured the continued presence of an alternative, radical community-focused theatre in an area under threat from developers: "This is an extraordinary moment in CPT's history. After 25 years in loveable but increasingly ramshackle premises, we now have the opportunity to transform our spaces and unlock the full capacity of this unique building. Our vision has CPT's artists, audiences and local people at its heart and the co-design process undertaken over the last few months will bring into being a space that's accessible, inclusive and reflective of the diverse community we serve, significantly improving CPT's capacity to host, support and make extraordinary theatre. This project will ensure that we can continue to grow and evolve for another 25 years. It is the best birthday present we could have wished for."

Founded in 1994, by an artists collective in the former Lord Palmerston pub, the tiny studio space has championed innovative non-text based work by emerging artists, with a strong track record of working with the local community, and exploring the vital issues of the day.

With the outcome of other fundraising applications in the pipeline, works are due to begin in summer 2020, and include opening a community café to create an improved on street presence and upgrading the theatre and rehearsal space to improve lines of sight, increase capacity and address sound bleed issues from Hampstead Road.

Chair of the Board Kate McGrath says "This richly deserved support is just what the organisation needs, at just the right moment to capitalise on a record of extraordinary success and ensure another quarter-century of essential work. We look forward to making CPT an even more welcoming, inclusive and high-functioning space for its artists, audiences and community."

On November 12, CPT's is hosting a Bumper Birthday Bash and has commissioned some of their best-loved artists to create a brand-new performance. Hosted by Associate Artists, Sh!t Theatre, all funds raised will go towards artist development programmes.