After the atrocious scenes at the Derby Hippodrome last week, it is an understatement to say that theatre in Derby is in a very troubled time.
Firstly, The Derby Playhouse is in a severe state of non-funding. Derby City Council were the initial culprits to refuse to forward £40,000 of grant monies, back in November 2007. It was then, that the Arts Council England decided that it would subsequently be cutting its funding to the theatre. The current on/off Christmas production of Treasure Island came to a halt on 2nd February 2008 and the theatre has ceased to open since.
The Derby Hippodrome, although being used most recently as a bingo hall, was hit by a fire in February. The damage was small; however it was enough that the council ordered the building’s owner a repairs notice. Under the notice, the “repairs” came in; it was here where it went horribly wrong.
Last week, a ridiculous amount of demolition began with a “bucket excavator” and a “nibbler” – not the sort of machinery to help with repairs – it was alleged that the building was a high risk to public safety and must be demolished immediately. The council managed to prevent any further damage; although so much has already been done it appears as if it will all have to come down anyway.
The whole event is an absolute disgrace to the council and the building’s owner.I can’t really understand how this has all happened when there are meant to be a number of bodies in place to prevent this sort of thing. The Stage newspaper commented that “According to the organisation, [the Theatres Trust] the events of last week are unprecedented in the history of the Theatres Trust.” – Clearly demonstrating the seriousness of the recent events.
Here are some videos and photos to the Hippodrome events:-
Tell me whether you think any of this is an attempt at a repair?
Even though the Hippodrome wasn’t being used as a theatre, it can be if it gets rebuilt, which can happen with pressure from the public. While it will be a long time until it is rebuilt, it is down the Playhouse to show any sign of theatre life in Derby. Please show some support – either by joining the Facebook group Save Derby Playhouse:-
Or going to the site and following the instructions, for example signing the petition:-
Where’s the next place that this inevitable story will unfold? Well, after the Playhouse closure and other important, wonderful and thriving places closing in the recent past, such as the Gardner Arts Centre, in Brighton, Sussex – a place where I have performed, as well as some world renowned companies, a place where I first saw Frantic Assembly and Forced Entertainment and further ignited my passion for theatre. Now, the next generation will be very much deprived of such entertainment, which deeply saddens me.
When we will next hear of a closure which will send a resounding note out into the theatre community, probably much too late? It’s about time that the closures stopped, the councils gave more money and protection to different institutions and theatre grew out more than ever before. I know, this is in and ideal world – however, isn’t that what we’re aiming for?