Ambitious £2 million plans for a historic Bradford theatre are about to get people talking.
Jono Gadsby and his wife Clare, who took over the running of the New Bradford Playhouse 15 months ago on a peppercorn-rent, are hoping plans drawn up so far – and to be unveiled to the public this Easter – will generate more ideas for the vision to keep the artistic space centre stage for the whole community.
Part of the vision, already included in line drawings, is a glass rectangular structure which will house a lift running up the outside of the four-storey building giving disabled access to all floors.
It is suggested moving the theatre’s main entrance to Leeds Road instead of being half-way up Chapel Street where it is now and the size of the foyer being increased by about three times.
Some private funding is already secured but the rest has still to be found, said Mr Gadsby.
“We have a bit of private funding and we are hoping to approach Bradford’s regeneration pot for a considerable amount of it and then funding from the Arts Council and lots of other sources,” he said.
“The £2m price tag might make people gasp but compared to other projects in the city it’s a bargain.
“It’s a resource that is already here, already being used and with massive potential to be used even more.
“For the time being we are still leasing it on a pepper-corn rate from the liquidators while a long term solution is found – and we hope these plans will be it. We don’t want it to be an offering, we want these plans we have so far to be a creative starting and talking point and open up discussion on what people want it to become and how it could be used by the whole community and artisitic community.
“We want to hear what their needs are and how they could be filled.”
Last year the theatre was taken off the Theatre Buildings at Risk register – thanks to the Gadsbys’ rescue efforts as Takeover Events & Theatre Ltd making sure its 290-seat art deco main theatre, 70-seat studio and cabaret area in the basement bar remain well-used.
Throughout its history the theatre, originally the Bradford Civic, has survived off-stage dramas including financial struggles, fires and temporary closures. In 2011 the venue went into liquidation with debts of about £300,000.
Dates for viewings and discussions of the new plans will be announced soon but are expected to be in time for the Easter weekend.