As Ovalhouse prepare to move from their current small-scale theatre in Oval to a new building in Brixton, this latest good news takes them several steps closer to their opening in late 2019.
The Arts Council has announced that they will confirm an award for a total of £3 million to be invested in the new theatre which comes in tandem with the news that Ovalhouse has secured an offer as a National Portfolio Organisation with a revenue grant for 2018-22. This incredible contribution will allow the company to build an exciting range of activities towards the opening of the new building as they plan to ‘arrive and thrive’.
Designed by Foster Wilson Architects, the building will have seven rehearsal studios and two studio theatres. It will allow disabled users to access all areas and will be built to a high sustainable standard. The balance of the cost of the building will be paid from proceeds from the sale of Ovalhouse’s current site, and additional fundraising.
Ovalhouse has an impressive history; Pierce Brosnan discovered his love of acting in the Youth Theatres and developed his talent as a professional actor with his first performances at Ovalhouse. Additionally, Sanjeev Bhaskar was commissioned by the BBC after a small show upstairs at Ovalhouse and Paulette Randall, the first black woman to take a show into the West End, was a regular as a young person. Ovalhouse alumni also include Jenny Sealey, Director of Graeae Theatre and co-Director of the 2010 Paralympic Games opening. All these artists are supporting the ambitious move to a new building in their role as patrons.
Ovalhouse’s Director, Deborah Bestwick, comments, “We have always known that this is an ambitious project – to build a new theatre in hard times, but we look at the work of our artists, and know that we are investing in the future. This grant unlocks that future.”
Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England, said, “The Arts Council is pleased to support Ovalhouse’s move to Brixton. The company does excellent work for the development of diverse artists and young people, and this represents a strong opportunity to develop a cultural hub in south London. We welcome the match funding from the London Borough of Lambeth: it is an investment not just in the project, but in a future of arts and culture for their community.”
Cllr Sonia Winifred, Lambeth Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, added, “Having seen first-hand both the quality of work and the social value that Ovalhouse add to our community, I very much welcome news of this significant investment.”
Supporting a steady stream of up and coming artists who define a generation, Ovalhouse also welcomes a wide range of community members, from young refugees to the elders of Stockwell Good Neighbours, all working on cutting edge inclusive theatre.
In January 2016, The Arts Council England awarded Ovalhouse a Stage 1 development award of £130,600 and have just received a Stage 2 grant of £2,869,400.