A state of the art 300-seater theatre and community resource is set to open in Southwark in the new year thanks to a £920,000 loan from Unity Trust Bank.
Southwark Playhouse, currently based in Newington Causeway, is putting the finishing touches to its new purpose-built home at the foot of the recently developed 44-storey Uncle building at Newington Butts in Elephant & Castle.
The tower, on the site of the old London Park Hotel, provides 450 residential apartments and includes the theatre space as part of a Section 106 Agreement with Southwark Council.
Chris Smyrnios, Artistic Director and CEO at Southwark Playhouse said: “This was an ambitious project for a small organisation like ours. The developers built the shell and core of the theatre but we needed to raise £3m to complete the building.
“The financial support we received from Unity Trust Bank at the beginning of this project gave confidence to other backers and we were able to reach our target. Unity’s support unlocked everything for us and helped make this project happen.”
Southwark Playhouse, which has established itself as one of London’s leading studio theatres, was the brainchild of actress Juliet Alderdice and her husband Tom Wilson, a deputy head teacher, who set up the charity in 1993 to help emerging talent and provide facilities for the local community.
Today, with 20 staff and the help of 100 volunteers, it stages several productions a year and engages with more than 5,000 children through a free-of-charge innovative youth and community programme.
The charity works closely with schools, Southwark Council and local organisations to improve educational achievement and also provides a range of adult workshops.
Janet Geohagen, relationship manager at Unity Trust Bank, said: “Southwark Playhouse shares our values in wanting to make a positive difference to society.
“Thousands of people in the local area benefit from free arts and culture facilities and we are delighted the charity now has a new home where it can develop and grow.”
The project is due for completion at the end of July but because of the Covid-19 crisis, the grand opening is not expected until early 2021.
Chris Smyrnios said: “The new theatre will provide dedicated space for all of our community groups and will enable us to put on bigger shows.”