Next month the curtain will rise on a new era at the historic Little Germany Theatre.

A vision for the venue, formerly Bradford Playhouse, will be announced at an open day marking the reopening of the Studio theatre.

Rob Walters – whose company Be Wonderful Ltd took over the theatre when it went into liquidation, with historic debts of £300,000, in September – wants to strengthen and widen its role as a cultural hub and develop corporate and social use.

The company is in talks with heritage and arts bodies to secure funding to buy and refurbish the Chapel Street building. Occupied as a theatre since the 1920s, it’s up for sale for £370,000 and is currently being leased from liquidator Clough Corporate Solutions in Cleckheaton.

There’s no guarantee that, if sold, it will remain a theatre, prompting national advisory body the Theatres Trust to raise concerns about its future. In a letter to Bradford Council, the trust notes the theatre’s contribution to the city’s cultural strategy and pledges to oppose any change-of-use application.

Chris Wood, of Clough Corporate Solutions, told the T&A: “The property potentially lends itself to a wide range of uses. However, it has played a key role in Bradford’s cultural heritage since 1929, so it would be fantastic if a buyer could be found that would rejuvenate the theatre.”

Rob, a former chairman of the theatre and a creditor, is confident of success. “We’re making a fresh start, with a name change and new branding. It’s fundamentally a theatre but we’re working on a business plan to develop other uses too,” he says. “We have a 290-seat auditorium, 70-seat Studio and other large spaces for uses such as rehearsals, community events, social functions and business conferences.”

In the past, the theatre has become something of an arts clique. For Rob, the future lies in widening its appeal.

“It became inward-focused. Yes, it’s great to have a creative hub but you can’t pay the bills without bringing in good crowds. A regular events slot will get regular audiences in,” he says. “There are half-a-million people in Bradford – what’s the point in existing if we’re only going to attract 2,000?”

With arts venues across the city, from the Alhambra to Kala Sangam and Theatre in the Mill, can the Little Germany Theatre compete? “It’s not a case of competing, it’s a case of complementing each other,” says Rob. “If you take this theatre out, you lose a large, accessible city centre-based community venue.

“Each venue is on a different scale, with different propositions, but together we have value in this city’s cultural life.”

The theatre is being run by a core group of staff and volunteers, some of whom have been involved in previous phases of its life.

With plans including live music, film screenings and drama clubs, Rob hopes that drawing in new and larger crowds will have a positive impact on Little Germany.

“There’s a physical gulf between here and the rest of the city centre. It can only be a good thing for us once the Westfield site is opened, as it will bring more people over this end of the city centre,” says Rob.

“We want to encourage more students here, too. When I was involved in student theatre in Cardiff, we used different venues in the city, but in Bradford student life is more enclosed on campus. This venue provides an excellent starting point for aspiring actors, technicians and theatre companies.”

Short-term plans include cementing community use. “Amateur theatre plays a valuable role in the arts, it draws a different crowd to professional productions, but a mix of the two is essential,” says Rob. “Within time we’ll look to attract professional companies. We’re in talks with the Lowry theatre in Salford, which is seeking northern venues to take part in its development programme.

“It’s a tough climate for theatres, but shows that hit the spot and meet a need are doing well. We need to develop as a strong venue and bring in events that make money.”

In January, the public will be invited to the reopening of the Studio theatre, renamed the Isherwood Studio in memory of theatre stalwart Millicent Isherwood. “We will present our vision for the future, as well as honouring the past,” says Rob.