Grant boost for Ovalhouse Brixton move

Architect’s impression of nighttime view of Ovalhouse’s new home in Brixton.

The move of Ovalhouse arts centre to Brixton got another boost today (7 January) with the announcement of an initial Arts Council England grant of £130,600

It is the first stage of an overall £3 million grant proposal to facilitate the move of the theatre from Kennington to the new Somerleyton development in Brixton.

Lambeth council approved planning permission for the theatre at the end of last year.

The venue will have two theatre spaces and seven multi-use accessible studios – for rehearsal, participatory work and community activities.

Ovalhouse said it would bring jobs and opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises and support Brixton’s strong cultural sector. The flexible theatre spaces would have facilities for innovative new work and there would be an increased range of training within its youth leadership programmes, ensuring professional opportunities and transferable skills for local young people.

“The needs of vulnerable young people will be met in terms of access, safe spaces and purpose-built space, while the building will generate an income stream that will make Ovalhouse resilient and safer from financial shock,” it said.

Building is due to be completed by spring 2018.

Ovalhouse has already raised £6.5 million for the move and a successful Arts Council award of £3 million would leave a another £2 million to be raised to complete the project.

Joyce Wilson, London area director of Arts Council England, said Ovalhouse had “grand but achievable aims”.

Robin Priest, chair of the Ovalhouse development board, said the capital grant was a vital ingredient in its commitment to a strong partnership with Lambeth council – which formed the foundation for “an exciting and sustainable future both for Ovalhouse and for an important part of the centre of Brixton”.

Deborah Bestwick
Deborah Bestwick

Ovalhouse director Deborah Bestwick, MBE, said the vision for Ovalhouse in Brixton was built “on the aspirations of artists, young people, community members and the council. You spend exciting years dreaming of the space and facilities that will make it all possible. Seventeen years of testing and re-testing our needs, our budgets, and what it takes to create a sustainable theatre for the needs of artists and audiences now and in the future, for the modern financial climate. Now we can get on and actually do it.”

Lambeth council leader Lib Peck said: ”This is well deserved and a huge vote of confidence in the new theatre and in Lambeth”.


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