Plans to transform the West Yorkshire Playhouse will be discussed by senior councillors in Leeds.
Leeds City Council’s executive board will be asked to approve the next stage of a funding application which will allow transformative proposals for one of the city’s key cultural institutions to move to the next stage. Subject to Arts Council England awarding a Stage 2 grant, the project will deliver improved access to the theatre, a stunning new city-facing entrance and a new studio theatre space in the Rock Void. The next step in the Playhouse project comes after Leeds was named in Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe 2017, where the city was praised for its thriving urban regeneration and cultural scene.
The investment in the Playhouse is also seen as a key element of the city’s ongoing efforts to be named European Capital of Culture in 2023 as well as a catalyst for regenerating an important part of the city and stimulating economic growth through culture. In parallel with the scheme for the theatre, proposals which remain subject to council approval also include the creation of a new public space in the area known as Gateway Court, adjacent to the Playhouse aimed at improving connectivity with the city centre and revitalising the theatre’s surroundings. At the meeting on July 17, members of the executive board will be asked to authorise the Council to submit a Stage 2 application to Arts Council England for a grant of £6.33m toward an overall project cost of £14m. The project is expected to see the council commit £4.3m towards the cost of the refurbishment of the theatre building, with the remaining cost coming from the Playhouse through reserves and fundraising.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This is another exciting step towards the transformation of one of our most cherished arts institutions and a powerful statement of intent about our ambitions for the future of culture in Leeds.
“The West Yorkshire Playhouse is an integral part of the city’s cultural landscape and this project will both secure its future, make the theatre and its surrounding area a more vibrant and attractive place to live, work and visit.
“Our city’s eclectic arts scene is also a key element of our thriving local economy and an investment in one of Leeds’s cultural leading lights will help secure jobs and stimulate economic growth.”
Last year the council appointed award-winning PagePark Architects to lead on the designs for the theatre revamp.
The architects have previously designed improvements for The Centre for Contemporary Arts and the Theatre Royal in Glasgow and Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.
West Yorkshire Playhouse executive director, Robin Hawkes said:
“As we reach another important project milestone, we’re extremely grateful for Leeds City Council’s continued support for the Playhouse redevelopment.
We’re very proud that this building was originally created by a public campaign led by the people of Leeds, and we continue that through exploring and telling the stories of this city.
“The Playhouse doesn’t only exist to make exceptional and original theatre, but also for creative outreach activities with diverse communities and as a cultural hub supporting new and emerging theatre makers to refine their practice. One of the key points of this development is to add an intimate, specially designed studio space, so that we can grow the city’s vital contemporary performance scene. We’re also delighted about the proposal to create a new and much-needed public space on the Playhouse’s doorstep, as part of the ongoing transformation of the Quarry Hill cultural quarter.”
If the Stage Two application is successful, construction work is anticipated to begin on site early in 2018.
For more details, please visit: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/documents/s163289/Playhouse%20Cover%20Report%20040717.pdf