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Theatre enthusiast buyer saves threatened Bradford Playhouse
Updated 9:55am Tuesday 15th July 2014 in News
BRADFORD'S historic Playhouse theatre has been sold in a deal which will secure the future of the building.
The building had been in the hands of liquidators Clough & Co, which had been considering auctioning the building until a sale was agreed with theatre enthusiast Colin Fine.
The retired IT worker, 58, of Shipley, arrived in Bradford in 1991 to study at the university and his interest in theatre developed while he was there.
His decision to purchase the building means it will remain a theatre into the future, creating an opportunity for the management team to bid for outside funding.
Mr Fine said: “The decision of the liquidators to put the building up for sale has given me an opportunity to play a new part in preserving the Playhouse and letting it develop.
"I am delighted to have bought the building to ensure that the Playhouse is in the hands of somebody who wishes nothing more than it should continue as a theatre, a resource to the people of Bradford and a memorial to Priestley and others.
"I am not in this for investment in the financial sense but if everything failed I would still have the building.
"I hope it goes on being a theatre for years to come and as long as it is, I hope to support it. As well as being passionate about the theatre, I am interested in local history and the buildings of Bradford. To be able to play a significant part in preserving something is something I am really pleased to be able to do."
The management team have been running the 290 seat venue, which had J B Priestley as president from 1932 until his death in 1984, for the last two years with support from a 'friends' group.
It had been on the theatres at risk register until 2013 and has had a turbulent history which has included two fires and closures.
However, its future now appears secure and chairman of the Friends of Bradford Playhouse, Megan Murray, said: “This is indeed fantastic news, it means the Playhouse will continue to be part of Bradford’s cultural offering in the future.”
The first step in the theatre's future will be to get emergency works done to the building, with management working towards getting more funding.
If successful, that should allow improvements to the facilities for companies, groups and audiences who use the theatre.
Clare Gadsby, director of Takeover Events & Theatre Ltd, said: “"We are thrilled that we now have the chance to programme artistically long term.
"However, there is still a long road to travel in terms of regenerating the building so it can continue to offer an affordable artistic space to local arts groups and professional touring companies.”
Campaigners trying to save the building had been given fresh hope recently when Bradford Council supported an emergency application to list the building as a community asset, meaning greater opportunities for those seeking to keep the building available for public use.