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REP GOES DARK FOR TWO YEARS

02-06-2009

Birmingham Rep

It looks like Birmingham Rep will have to "go dark" for two years to accommodate construction of the city's new Central Library - far longer than previously envisaged. Alan Clawley wonders why the news has been allowed to creep out with no fanfare.

The REP Theatre has announced on its own website that the theatre will be closed for two years to enable the new Library of Birmingham to be built on the carpark next door. The closure periods previously quoted were “one year” then “15 months”.

The website asks itself the question:

Is the intention to remain open during the construction process?

The answer is:

For the work to happen we will have to move out of our Centenary Square home for a period of a couple of years as it would be impossible for us to operate.

It is imperative however for us to continue to create theatre here in Birmingham and so we will be making the most of this by producing an exciting programme of theatre in a range of venues across the city for audiences to enjoy. We will also continue our extensive Learning & Participation programme. Plans for this will be announced late 2009.

The first work on The REP building will probably start in early 2010 with the demolition of our current workshops, rehearsal rooms and hospitality suites – these functions will move to another location. We will continue to produce shows in the theatre during 2010 and we don’t imagine we will have to leave the building until 2011.

The last sentence hardly leaves the reader with the impression that the REP know exactly what is going on.

As far as I am aware no statement has been made either by the City Council or the REP about who will compensate the theatre for its loss of income, facilities or customers during the closure period.

And if it is so easy to carry on as normal using other venues for two years why can’t they do without the theatre in Centenary Square altogether?
 
Alan Clawley is chair of Friends of the Central Library
 
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