A future for the Hippodrome
The Brighton Hippodrome has been out of use since 2006. It had been a leading variety theatre from 1901 until 1965 and was then a bingo hall for 40 years. First live entertainment changed and variety shows went out of fashion, then bingo lost much of its market. These things happen.
But change is relentless and sometimes cyclical. Theatre has moved on and now we find there are major shows, such as the National Theatre and RSC productions and big West End musicals, that tour the country, attracting huge audiences. In other towns and cities—but not in Brighton and Hove. There is no theatre big enough and with the right facilities to receive them.
The Hippodrome could. It was built for exactly that purpose.
Something has to happen to the building and soon. The developers who proposed converting it into an eight-screen cinema said their scheme was the last chance, the only option to save the building.
Well, it wasn't. They would say that, wouldn't they, even though they knew they were going to sell on the site as soon as planning approval was in place. And now there is no plan other than OBH's.
The last thing we at Our Brighton Hippodrome want is for the building to continue in its current state. We want to breathe real life back into it as soon as possible.
Yet we have been accused of wanting to condemn it to a lingering death. We are said to be living in the past. We have been accused of drowning in nostalgia. It has even been said (by a normally better informed journalist) that we have 'pipe dream plans drawn up on the back of a beermat'.
We do have plans—real plans. They are operational plans, architects' plans, financial plans. Plans for a future that will create an asset for the city, the region and the nation. A future to be proud of.
∎ To secure the future of the Hippodrome and Hippodrome House for live
∎ To restore the building, especially the Frank Matcham interior of the main
∎ To be the major stimulus in the regeneration of Middle Street and the Old Town.
∎ To serve as the key performance venue in Brighton and Hove, to complement
other venues and working with them to develop the city's role as the regional
hub for theatre, music and the arts.
∎ To promote theatre arts through performance, training and education.
∎ To establish a strong commercial partnership with an established theatre
management company as the basis for taking the operation of the theatre
∎ To provide a year-round programme of performances across the range of styles:
drama, musical, opera, ballet, circus, pantomime, that will entertain and inspire
visitors with a wide range of tastes and preferences.
∎ To enhance the cultural offer of Brighton and Hove.
∎ To develop and sustain an ongoing and expansive business plan through
commercial entrepreneurialism and careful financial management.
∎ To make a significant contribution to Brighton and Hove's tourist economy.
∎ To extend the heritage and traditions of the Hippodrome by laying the
foundations for a positive future in the modern age for decades to come.
∎ To create a flexible, state-of-the-art modern theatre in a historic building that
will enjoy a high international reputation as a flagship venue.
∎ To become a producing as well as receiving house, originating productions that
can subsequently tour the country.
∎ To develop a second auditorium/performance space to be used for smaller
productions, as an art-house cinema, for meetings and talks, and as a rehearsal
∎ To establish the theatre as an educational centre for community programmes
and academic research.
∎ To take advantage of the Hippodrome's unique size and flexibility to innovate in
presentations styles, setting a standard as the beacon of theatre practice for
theatres nationally and internationally.
To restore the Brighton Hippodrome to its former glory and to operate it as a
receiving/producing theatre with a commercial partner and to provide facilities
for community activity and involvement.
∎ We are passionate about theatre, music and all forms of live performance.
∎ We are dedicated to establishing the Hippodrome for the social wellbeing and
interest of the local community.
∎ We will practice and encourage the pursuit of excellence.
∎ We value the principles of diversity and equality.
∎ We respect and will work with neighbours in the Old Town area and the wider
city community to ensure harmonious and creative relationships.