In 2017, The Old Vic completed the first steps in a programme of investment and renewal to transform the audience experience, educate and inspire the next generation and welcome more visitors than ever before. These works involved upgrading the façade of the building with the restoration of the Emma Cons plaque, renewed external signage and the replacement of the front doors to enhance accessibility and security.
In autumn 2019, we reopened the building following a nine-month project to make the front of house spaces accessible for the first time in 200 years, create a new Box Office, transform our bars and double the loo provision.
The next phase will be the development of a five-storey Annex adjacent to the theatre. It will be underwritten through an innovative cross-borough partnership between Lambeth and Southwark which will see each borough loan the theatre £3.75m towards the £12m total required. The partnership will provide millions of pounds’ worth of social value for those who live and work in both boroughs. The Old Vic will fundraise to repay the loan over a 10-year period through philanthropic support – in addition to meeting its annual revenue requirement of £4m fundraising income.
The £12m Annex will house the Clore Learning Centre with integrated education offices, a library of playtexts freely available to schools and visitors, a lively Café-Workspace, much-needed back of house space for The Old Vic’s staff and companies and a studio theatre space.
Through the creation of The Annex, The Old Vic will double the number of people benefiting from its work each year, unlock access to an ongoing income stream and have the ability to mount studio theatre-style performances, diversifying the offer with intimate drama, music, comedy and dance.
We are a charity which breaks even each year by raising £4 million from our generous supporters. And, unlike most others, we have no regular government funding to bridge the gap. If we don’t succeed in our mission to broaden and increase our audiences and restore our building in which to welcome them, there’s a genuine risk that The Old Vic will cease to exist as a theatre producing work, or potentially as a theatre at all.
There is no other theatre this size with this level of affordability, social conscience and creative innovation operating today. It must be upheld for tomorrow’s artists, audiences and young people — for whom the possibilities are limitless.