Heading back to the source of my last post – The Stage News, a new report has been released compiling a “list of England’s most endangered theatre buildings.” A new addition, amongst others to join that roll (I knew it wouldn’t be long) is the Gardner Arts Centre, Brighton. The list – compiled by the Theatres Trust, is released annually and I find it interesting that it was included shortly after I enquired about the state of the building when I spoke to some of their representatives at the ABTT conference last month.
Of course, there are many other endangered theatre buildings, far too many for a theatrephiles liking. But the reason why my biased goes towards the Gardner Arts, is because it was one of the places that helped me nurture and pioneer my first real original theatre thinking and the openness that theatre represents as a medium.
Growing up through school, musicals, straight plays and Shakespeare where the main studies of theatre known to me, and it was the GAC that positively broke down that mould. It was a place where I first learnt of Frantic Assembly and Forced Entertainment – both of which completely blew my mind open and made me ever more hungry to explore my own theatre realm. The centre attracted many renowned artists and companies to a very supportive and active Brighton theatre community which would only help further endorse theatre on the whole.
Not only did I gather many inspiring thoughts from experiencing some great work upon those boards, I also performed there myself – in a couple of musicals and a dance show. The latter is what made the GAC so appealing because of the size of its stage – it is one of the largest stages in the whole of the south of England. This added to the strength in attracting so many established companies.
Not only was the centre a thriving house for theatre and dance – being an arts centre it exhibited some fine local and further afield art works and installations as well as regularly screening films. What’s more, it provided many amateur theatre groups with an incredible space to play some fantastic productions and showcase Brighton, Sussex and the South as a leading innovator and creator of theatre and dance.
It’s now on that list, so it has been recognised as endangered which will hopefully help to turn it around and back into a prosperous and successful arts centre. Those of you who have been there will understand it is a peculiar but very spacious and welcoming building. It certainly became, in part, a home to me and somewhere I would hope to go back to as a professional theatre maker and with the right awareness and support, no doubt this can and will happen.
Read the news post from The Stage here – http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/21286/new-entries-on-theatre-building-at-risk-list