West Yorkshire Playhouse
Artists impression of what the West Yorlshire Playhouse could look like. Credit Page/Park architects.
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Progress report due on landmark Playhouse project

Senior councillors in Leeds will be updated on the ongoing requirements for the transformation of the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Members of the council’s executive board will be given a progress report on the ambitious scheme to revamp and revitalise the theatre and its surroundings, ahead of a meeting next week on 27 June.

The plans, submitted by Leeds City Council with support from the Playhouse, will breathe new life into the Playhouse, with improved access to the theatre and a new city-facing entrance along with a new studio theatre space in the Bramall Rock Void.

The Playhouse has entertained audiences, in total, for nearly half a century, and continues to play a vital role in the cultural fabric of the city through a variety of community-focused activities and events. With the 50th anniversary fast approaching in 2020, this refurbishment will ensure that people of all ages will have the chance to be inspired and experience the very best that theatre has to offer for many, many years to come.

Members will also be told about the creation of two new public spaces at Gateway Court and Playhouse Square which will link the theatre with other major ongoing developments in the area. Members of the executive board will be asked to approve the spending of an additional £1.44m which will be vital to the ongoing work on the theatre and public space improvements.

If approved by the executive board, the £15.8m redevelopment project, led in partnership with Leeds City Council, will be funded by £5.6m from the council, alongside a £6.6m Arts Council England contribution and £3.6m from the Playhouse’s own resources, including a fundraising target of £2.75m.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Working alongside partners, our shared commitment to the vision of a modern, 21st-century Playhouse and the huge cultural, social and economic benefits it will bring to the city remains unwavering.

“The Playhouse remains an integral and much-loved part of Leeds’s cultural landscape, and this project is vital to ensuring its future is sustainable and that the theatre can continue to inspire and make an exceptional contribution to the arts and in communities across the city.”

A planning application for the project was submitted and approved last year, with impressive designs drawn up by architects Page Park, who 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:

“The redevelopment of the Playhouse together with the creation of a redeveloped and enhanced public realm and other developments here on Quarry Hill will create a major shift in Leeds’s cultural landscape. We are hugely thankful to the funders and sponsors who continue to support the project to create a building which will match the ambitions of our organisation.

“We are now presenting the final few performances of the last two productions before the redevelopment begins – a huge community production ‘Searching for the Heart of Leeds’ which is an invitation to everyone in the city to tell their story, and ‘Talking Heads’ which we have now toured to every postcode in Leeds.

With the upcoming announcement of our Pop-Up theatre autumn 2018/Spring 2019 season, this feels like the start of the next chapter for the Playhouse. We can’t wait to keep sharing with everyone what is happening here at the Playhouse during this exciting time.”

To view the full report, please see: https://democracy.leeds.gov.uk

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