Petition calls for clarity on fate of theatre venue

Campaigners are calling for clarity on the future of Sheffield's Library Theatre.

Thursday, 23rd February 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 7:40 am
Central Library and Graves Art Gallery. Picture: Andrew Roe

More than 500 people have signed a new online petition calling for the venue to be kept amid proposals to create a five-star hotel at the Graves Gallery and Central Library building, which houses the theatre.

The council has already admitted the theatre may not feature in a redeveloped building. However, options on how a venue can be incorporated into any new library will be considered. The authority has also made a pledge that there will be no immediate shake-ups to the gallery or theatre programmes, and no changes until an investment agreement is confirmed.

Phil Gascoyne, who set up the petition as chairman of the Sheffield and District Amateur Theatre Association, said the 260-seat Art Deco space was ‘unique among Sheffield’s theatres’.

“It is the only theatre owned by, and belonging to the residents of Sheffield. Sheffield groups perform there and Sheffield people make up the audience. It is ‘the people’s theatre’. It is home to an eclectic mix of theatre, dance, music, local primary schools and an extensive range of professional touring companies. It provides our residents the opportunity to go to the theatre at a reasonable cost.

“It is ideally placed for those reliant on public transport and, for many, it is the only time they visit the city centre in the evening.

“And if it goes? All the activities it supports will go with it. It will be a body blow to the cultural identity of the city. If a new Central Library is built, it is vital that a new theatre is part of the plan.”

n Visit to see the petition.