We're so glad to be beside the seaside
We have just been awarded £44,600 from the Coastal Revival Fund. This is a new central-government scheme in which £3m has been divided between the successful applicant projects, restricted to those in localities with a coastline. Useful that Brighton and Hove qualified. Nonetheless, it was over-subscribed three-fold, so we are rather pleased and proud to have been given a grant.
This money will pay for more of the preliminary work needed in the run-up to the big grant applications, such as a condition survey and estimate of the cost of repairs, architectural designs and visualisations. The outcome of our bid for a Start-up Grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund should be announced towards the end of January.We are also doing our bit for the city by looking at the area around the Hippodrome. A small amount of the Coastal Revival Fund grant is earmarked for a study that we hope will lead towards the regeneration of the whole Old Town Conservation Area, which is in need of some TLC.
The Hippodrome and its surroundings depend on each other and we want to see the neighbourhood benefit. This bid was supported by the city council, with whom we continue to work.
The six-month exclusivity period given given by Academy Music Group to the Stakeholder Group of which OBH and Brighton Hippodrome CIC are a part came to an end on 18 December 2015. Nonetheless, we remain confident that our plans are now sufficiently well established to make acquisition of the freehold a realistic prospect.
We are grateful to the Regency Society of Brighton and Hove for a £2,000 grant towards the cost of the viability report that is the starting point for the next stages of the Hippodrome project. Click on the logo for more about the society.
A time for giving and receiving
Thanks to all those who responded to our appeal for donations in last month's bulletin. With the £3,000 development grant already awarded by the Architectural Heritage Fund and some very generous contributions from individuals, we are now moving up steadily through the funding foothills. In February we will set off for the summit with a major round-one application to the Heritage Enterprise scheme.
We still need your help. Not only do your donations pay for all the next stages towards acquisition and restoration, they really do influence the outcome of major grant applications. The more we are seen to be pulling our weight, the more we impress decision-makers.
So please go to the donate page on our website. This is obviously not the most important appeal this Christmas but the world will be a tiny bit better when the Hippodrome is back in use.
If you haven't yet, why not make membership of Our Brighton Hippodrome your Christmas present to yourself and/or to friends? Go to the membership page to join.
Stars for your eyes
The website has a new page of faces of some of the great names that starred at the Hippodrome in its variety theatre days between 1902 and 1964. There are 110 of them — but without their names, only the dates when they appeared. If you fancy a Christmas quiz, see how many you can recognise. No prizes, it's just for fun. If you can name more than half of them, you're a real variety fan. If you can name them all, you'll deserve a back-stage tour when that becomes possible.
Visit the Hippodrome stars page.
Here are some to get you started.
One of them starred in a film called Spare a Copper. That's another hint to visit the donate page!
And finally, with our grateful thanks for your continuing interest and support, we wish you all the best for a Merry Christmas and a Hippo New Year.
News bulletin #12
The moment we'd been waiting for
There is now a very real prospect of being able to bring the Hippodrome back to life. This press release was issued by The Theatres Trust at 8:00am on Friday 19 June 2015:
Following the purchase of the Freehold of the Brighton Hippodrome by Academy Music Group (AMG) in April 2015, we are pleased to announce that over the next six months (from 18 June to 17 December 2015), AMG will be working with ourselves, The Theatres Trust, Brighton and Hove City Council, Historic England, Our Brighton Hippodrome, Brighton Hippodrome CIC, and the Frank Matcham Society on a jointly commissioned Viability Study to identify a future use for this unique Grade II* former circus variety theatre. A Stakeholder Group has been formed with representatives of all organisations to oversee the Viability Study.
Council Leader, Warren Morgan said, 'BHCC is pleased to be working with stakeholders on identifying a way forward to secure the future of the Hippodrome. This is a very positive initiative and we are keen to see a use that complements our ambitions for the economic development of this area of the city centre.'
Mhora Samuel, Director of The Theatres Trust, the National Advisory Public Body for Theatres said, 'We are pleased to be supporting this initiative. The group will be working together over the next six months to find a solution that will protect the historical and cultural significance of this Frank Matcham theatre and identify a beneficial viable use.'
David Fisher, on behalf of Our Brighton Hippodrome and Brighton Hippodrome CIC, said: 'This is the moment we have been working towards for the past 18 months. We are pleased and excited that Academy Music Group is creating this opportunity. However, this is not the end of the line, just the first milestone. We shall now be working hard on the business proposition with our stakeholder partners.'
Russell Duly, Head of Property, AMG said: 'The Theatres Trust and all other organisations who are involved in this steering committee have our full support to form a collaborative and experienced effort into this study.'
The Hippodrome is number one on The Theatres Trust's Theatre Buildings at Risk Register and is high on Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register.
Petition and ACV nomination on hold
We did not present our petition to the council's Economic Development and Culture Committee as a result of this development. We have also suspended our re-nomination of the Hippodrome as an asset of community value (ACV) because the arrangement with Academy Music Group is more favourable than anything an ACV listing would provide.
News bulletin #10
The outlook is getting very exciting
Restoration of the Hippodrome for live performance is more likely now than it has been at any time since the bingo hall closed in 2006. You'll soon hear why.
Talking to the council
We are preparing to present our nearly 5,000-signature-strong petition to Brighton and Hove City Council. It will go to the policy-making Economic Development and Culture Committee at 16:00 on 18 June 2015 at Hove Town Hall. Visitors are welcome in the public gallery. We're glad to say the overwhelming majority of councillors are in favour of bringing the Hippodrome back to life.
What's happening this weekend
It's not too late to join us for this exciting theatre event:
Sunday 7 June 20:00 (doors 19:30)
at Komedia, Gardner Street, Brighton.
All tickets £10 (concessions £10) from Komedia box office or Jo Jameson 07815 334174
• A lavishly illustrated talk by local historian Chris Horlock about the shameful history of the city's lost theatres—all 11 of them—and the why it's important to protect the survivors,. the Hippodrome being by far the most important.
18 June Presentation of OBH's petition to the City Council at 16:00 in Hove Town Hall.
18 July Our Brighton Hippodrome AGM at the Brighthelm Community Centre in North Road, Brighton. It is really important for members to be at the AGM as this is where you can hear about everything we are doing and take part in decision-making. Watch for a notification about nominations and elections of trustees very soon.
13 September Real Music Club will be putting on a benefit for the Hippodrome at the Brunswick pub in Holland Road, Hove. Further details in our next bulletin and on their website the realmusicclub.com/. It will be exciting!
September A spoken word event now in preparation. We will keep you posted.
Keep an eye on the Events page of our website: ourhippodrome.org.uk/events
Asset of Community Value (ACV)
We have re-nominated the Hippodrome as an ACV. Our argument is that the council has never defined how to interpret the Act, as they are supposed to do, even though two ACVs have been granted, so officers have therefore created ad hoc policy. The deadline for the council's response is 18 June.
As there is no prospect of any development in the near future other than ours, listing the Hippodrome will provide a six-month moratorium to allow us time to develop our plans even further to show their viability. Listing as an ACV would be a clear and important sign of the council's determination not to let the Hippodrome slip into terminal decay.
Be an OBH member
One of the best ways to support our campaign to restore the Hippodrome is to become a member of Our Brighton Hippodrome.
You can do this here: ourhippodrome.org.uk/join
• We appreciate the support from all our members and from our friends in the Save Our Hippodrome campaign. Norman Cook (Fat Boy Slim) and Billy Bragg are among the latest to show their support. Read the growing and already massively impressive list of celebrity supporters on the website at ourhippodrome.org.uk/join/messages.html
We are always looking for volunteers. Details are on the website at ourhippodrome.org.uk/volunteer.
If you have a little spare time and would like to help with OBH events, please send an email to email@example.com Any offers, even for the odd hour or two will be most welcome.
News bulletin #9
Still no firm news but we work on
We are still waiting to hear about the transfer of ownership of the Hippodrome and who the new owner is. Meanwhile, we're getting on with the preparation of our business proposition, as there is no longer any other scheme in prospect.
• Restoration for live performance is now clearly the default option. We are asking all the candidates in the forthcoming council election to sign a pledge that, if elected, they will support our restoration plans to bring the Hippodrome back to life. Most of the parliamentary candidates for the city's three constituencies already support us.
If you are a candidate and haven't yet heard from us, please click on this link.
• We are also asking the council to reconsider our nomination of the Hippodrome as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). The Department of Communities and Local Government told us that councils (ie, councillors) should decide how to interpret the Localism Act 2012 and its regulations. The previous nomination was turned down by council officers without elected members ever giving guidance to them.
Several fundraising events are now lined up for your entertainment and edification.
• Screening of the 1965 film Be My Guest, which was filmed in the Hippodrome.
Showing on Sunday 19 April at 15:00 at Komedia Studio in Gardner Street Brighton (doors at 14:30). Tickets still available at £10 (£8 concessions).
• Open House Exhibition: The Hippodrome past, present and future
On Saturday 2 May and Sunday 3 May, 12:00-16:00pm at 13 Powis Square, Brighton.
Sponsored walk for the Hippodrome
Judith Taylor is undertaking a 100-mile walk from Stratford-on-Avon to the Bristol Hippodrome to raise funds for the Hippodrome campaign. She arrives at the Pool Valley bus station in Brighton at 09:30 in Saturday 18 April, leaving for London and Stratford at 10:05. OBH members will be there to wave her off and all are welcome to be there. She arrives in Bristol on Monday 27 April. You can sponsor her walk by going to Just Giving.