Bid made for Peterborough’s New Theatre to become community asset

Peterborough’s New Theatre could become registered as a community asset in an attempt to secure its long-term future.

By Joel Lamy
Monday, 26th July 2021, 4:35 pm
Exterior of the New Theatre, Broadway EMN-190909-153339009
Exterior of the New Theatre, Broadway EMN-190909-153339009

The former Broadway Theatre has had a troubled history and there were fears not too long ago that it might be converted into apartments.

It is now under the management of global theatre company Selladoor Worldwide which has invested in the premises and delivered a full programme of shows, but efforts are being made to ensure the venue is protected for decades to come.

The theatre is currently owned by Rinaldo Fasulo and is leased to the Dawe Charitable Trust, which in turn sub-leases it to Selladoor.

Last Friday, the trust applied to Peterborough City Council to register the premises as a community asset which would give residents the opportunity to make a counter-offer should the owner choose to sell up.

This would not, though, guarantee that the theatre remains as a theatre.

The trust said: “The Dawe Charitable Trust rescued the theatre from a long period of closure and has demonstrated that the theatre is a financially viable venue.

“However, Covid has complicated the handover to Selladoor, a professionally run theatre company.

“While the owner has been generous in not collecting some rents, there is still a challenge squaring the needs of the theatre company and the owners now it is possible to fully reopen. The trust, Selladoor and the owners continue to plan for a successful programme starting in the late summer.

“The trust would like to invite the Peterborough community to write to Peterborough council in support of this application by emailing A[email protected] and your local city councillor.”

The trust is run by Peter Dawe, the entrepreneur who previously attempted to become Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Mr Dawe helped the theatre re-open back in 2017 through management company Performance Art Ventures C.I.C (PAV), led by Mark Ringer.

However, PAV had its sub-lease terminated after running into major financial difficulties which included owing the council £68,000 in business rates, while promoters of shows which had taken place at the theatre claimed they had not been paid in full.

Customers who bought their tickets through the box office were also left out of pocket as shows were cancelled.

Mr Dawe then partnered with Selladoor to get the theatre back open again, but the pandemic has had a major impact.

The venue in Broadway first opened as an Odeon cinema in 1937 and is one of the most iconic places in the city despite its troubled history which has seen it close on several occasions.