Tuesday, July 6, 2021

News: Council considering new theatre and arts space in Rotherham town centre


Early scripts are being drafted for a potential new theatre, and a centre for performing arts, to improve the leisure and cultural offer in Rotherham town centre.

Rotherham Civic Theatre is currently undergoing a refurbishment of the front of house and bar areas before it reopens in the Autumn 2021. The former arts centre was demolished to make way for the Tesco store on Drummond Street and never replaced.

The Town Centre Masterplan made clear that retail is not the answer as the focus shifts to other town centre uses such as leisure and housing.

Whilst the masterplan, adopted in 2017, said that the Forge Island project "might also include a new theatre and arts centre," the proposals for the key site included a hotel and cinema with restaurants, but did not include a new theatre.

The masterplan stated that a feasability study was required as there was a window of opportunity to progress a theatre and arts centre on the Magistrates Court site. A cgi was even mocked up (above) but this site appears to be being readied for housing as part of the later phases of the Forge island scheme.

Now the council is looking to undertake such a study, allocating funding and putting out a tender to engage with consultants.

Rotherham Council is expected to use some of its Gainshare emergency recovery grant for the work. A £1.08m grant came from the Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority in support of Covid economic recovery efforts.

Tender documents also show that new arts space is also on the drawing board.

With a value of up to £150,000, the tender documents state what is required: "A multi-disciplinary programme team to develop a feasibility study and final report for the details design of a new Centre for Performing Arts in Rotherham Town Centre. The feasibility study will focus on the appropriate mix of uses for the venue, an options appraisal and recommendation for the most suitable location; an outline brief for the final detailed design; a programme of consultation; and estimated budgets."

Funding for a new theatre and/or arts space will need to be found. The Council's plans for using the £40m+ via the Future High Street Fund and Town Deal did not include new capital investment for either.

The Civic Theatre accommodates a range of touring and local musical, comedy and theatrical performances. The building on Catherine Street is a converted church and was purchased by the Council in 1960.

£540,000 was allocated by the authority in 2012 to carry out much-needed repairs and refurbishment of both the interior and exterior of the building. The works were expected to bring the theatre up to a condition which would give a further ten years life.

The authority secured grants £55,272 and £131,644 from the Arts Council England administered Culture Recovery Fund to support operations through the Covid pandemic. The Civic has not traded since March 2020 due to Covid restrictions.

Images: RMBC / WYG


Mr me July 6, 2021 at 10:04 AM  

A new theatre ,needs to be a 500+ seater to get on the circuit for major name tours,comedians ect..The guest and Chrimes site would be a perfect site for such development.

Anonymous,  July 6, 2021 at 1:56 PM  

Surely it'd make more sense to convert Mecca Bingo to a theatre rather than knock it down

Anonymous,  July 6, 2021 at 9:38 PM  

Council don't own bingo hall ,and a new modern eye catching Riverside theatre will be far better.

old git July 7, 2021 at 6:03 AM  

before anyhing is done to get peple back into rotherham centre, the major reson people don't go at present has to be eradicated

clear the town centre of the druggies thaat occupy it, especially at night

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