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Croydon Warehouse staff bidding to reopen theatre

Warehouse Theatre, Croydon. Pic: Tomas Jivanda

The former artistic director of an East Croydon theatre hopes the building, boarded up last week, will stage performances again soon.

“They’ve boarded it up because it is practical in terms of keeping the building safe while they do a survey,” said Ted Craig, who is now part of a group bidding to take over the building if it reopens.

Shows at the Warehouse Theatre ended in May 2012 after Croydon Council and Arts Council funding was cut and the venue’s operating company went into administration.

Volunteers kept the theatre bar open in an effort to save the company but fundraising efforts failed and the building’s landlords took over on November 26.

The owners, development company Stanhope and finance company Schroeders, closed the theatre in order to carry out a “thorough survey” to “establish the structural integrity and safety of the building”.

Stanhope will consider the costs of repairs and whether or not to approve reoccupation.

They said: “The building has fallen into disrepair and we understand that considerable expenditure will be required to get it into a condition that is fit for purpose.”

There are three groups bidding to take over the theatre if it is reopened, including Craig’s, which consists of former Warehouse Theatre employees.

“Having been in the building for so long I think that most of the building is actually quite sound,” said Craig.

“There are a couple of bits and pieces – the roof over the foyer needs a thorough check – but I think the actual integrity of the theatre itself is pretty good because when I was running the company, we had the electrics done just over a year ago. We’ve had regular maintenance on the building all the way through.”

If any of the bidders do succeed in taking over the building, Stanhope stress this will only be a short-term solution: “No entity has yet come forward with a long-term, viable business plan for the existing business.”

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