Working to save the most important unused theatre in the UK
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The campaign

Our Brighton Hippodrome campaign to save the theatre began in autumn 2013 when the plans to convert the unique Hippodrome building into an eight-screen cinema became more widely known.
      A meeting was convened by Professor Gavin Henderson, former director of the Brighton Festival, on the very wet Sunday afternoon of 20 October 2013. The meeting room at the Friends' Meeting House was unexpectedly packed to the rafters. Among the audience were architects, performers, historians, council officers and politicans including our MP, members of amenity groups, local residents and members of the local branch of the actors' union, Equity.
      An ePetition was opened on the Brighton and Hove City Council website urging the council to use its best endeavours to ensure that the Hippodrome was restored for live performance. The petition was presented to the Economic Development and Culture Committee of the council on 23 January 2014, having gathered 1,099 signatures.
      Over the following weeks, a campaign group was assembled and plans began to evolve. We set out to raise public awareness of the plans. Pretty well everyone was in favour of restoring the Hippodrome as a theatre and could not understand why anyone would want it to be turned into another cinema.
      Another petition was launched and this time achieved over 20,500 signatures. You can see some of the 'names' who signed here.

Brighton Hippodrome CIC (community interest company) grew out of the campaign to set about the task of developing the business case for a theatre, looking for sources of capital finance and presenting the arguments to the city council and other agencies. We have had the steadfast support of the Theatres Trust throughout.
      Our evolving business plan shows how the Hippodrome could be used round the year for a wide variety of live performances—top-class theatre, music, dance, opera, West End musicals, ballet, variety, stand-up—as well as for snooker, wrestling, conferences, even large-screen prestige cinema presentations. The Hippodrome's unique circular layout means it could also be used for theatre-in-the-round, circuses and 'roundhouse' productions like the Cirque du Soleil. Think Brighton's answer to the Sheffield Crucible, Strictly on the South Coast, our Albert Hall.
      Use of the building on this scale has not been contemplated since the heyday when the Beatles topped the bill. Unfortunately, successive owners haven't really considered it either. Yet this is what the Hippodrome was built for.

The view in 2016
to view full-screen: click on Watch on YouTube (opens in new window)

This video was made for the Theatres Trust's Theatres at Risk campaign promotion in 2016



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Image: The galleried lantern in the main auditorium's dome


Page updated 26 July 2021