Woolwich Cultural District – Royal Borough of Greenwich
The Royal Borough of Greenwich (RBG) recently acquired five large Grade 2 listed heritage buildings, which had previously formed part of the Royal Arsenal military munitions factories site which closed in 1967. The site played a significant local role, at one time employing 80,000 people. Latterly, it housed the Royal Artillery Museum and now it also comprises one of the biggest concentrations of Grade I and Grade II listed buildings converted for residential use (by Berkeley Homes), with more than 3,000 residents. In 2018, Crossrail will connect Woolwich Arsenal with central London in less than 20 minutes.
Following the acquisition, RBG made a manifesto commitment to develop its buildings for cultural use, but had no detailed plans in place. BK was commissioned to undertake a cultural master planning exercise for the site, which totals some 16,500 square metres of usable space.
BK undertook a feasibility study, working with Bennetts Associates and successfully identified a broad range of cultural uses. Following adoption of BK’s proposed operational and capital plan, RBG has now earmarked funds of more than £40 million to bring the project to fruition. Working with a small internal RBG project team, BK has been retained to work on detailed business planning, setting up a new operational trust and identifying and working with arts companies who will be resident on site. We are also working alongside the design team on detailed capital planning. The first phase of the development is scheduled to open in 2019.
New lyric theatre for Tunbridge Wells
For some years, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has been considering redeveloping the existing Council offices site, which also includes the 900-seat Assembly Hall Theatre, originally built in 1939. During the Second World War, the theatre was used for dances for troops, film shows and events to raise money for the war effort. Latterly, it has presented a wide programme of performances and events, but has been constrained by its limited capacity and facilities. The need to redevelop its site has afforded the opportunity to build a new lyric theatre for the town.
There have been a number of master plans prepared and, over a period of several years, BK completed various feasibility studies and options analyses to reflect the different schemes. Following the Council’s adoption of a definitive forward plan, BK is now working closely with the design team, Allies & Morrison and the theatre’s management to prepare a business plan for a new 1200 seat lyric theatre to be built on a new site in the town, together with planning the transition from the existing operation of the Assembly Hall Theatre into the new venue.
This work resonates with a previous business plan BK produced for Canterbury City Council, when the old Marlowe Theatre was rebuilt and increased from 900 to 1200 seats. The advantage in Tunbridge Wells is that the existing theatre does not have to close before the new theatre is completed, which is a considerable operational gain. The new theatre is projected to be ready in 2022.
Zorlu Theatres, Istanbul www.zorlucenter.com/pac/
BK spent some 15 years working on various projects in Istanbul. Our clients included IKSV (Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts), the Hüsnü M. Özyegin Foundation and the Zorlu Group. A major capital development, supported by BK’s business plan for a new cultural complex, began construction in the late 1990s, but had to be cancelled following the 1999 earthquake, which left 500,000 homeless and meaning that previously pledged government funds had to be diverted into social care.
Following unsuccessful attempts to revive the original capital project, in 2010 BK was commissioned to prepare a business plan and support the design process for two new theatres (a lyric theatre at 2,242 and a drama theatre at 717 seats) that were proposed as part of a large Westfield style development in Istanbul, opening in 2013. BK’s client was the Zorlu Group, Turkey’s third biggest commercial company.
The planning process involved intensive local, regional, national and international market research in Turkey and the production of a detailed market research report to inform the procurement strategy, including information on programming, likely sales, income and expenditure. Key issues were sensitivities to programming in a largely Muslim community and how Turkey as a whole managed its international cultural relations.
BK then prepared all the documentation for procurement and managed the search for an international operator. BK advised the client at all stages of the contract negotiations and through this process BK secured Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment as the venue’s international management company, which used a largely local workforce.
The Zorlu Performing Arts Centre has been a significant success, far exceeding all its initial performance targets, successfully programming local, national and international activities and events.
The Globe, Stockton on Tees www.stockton.gov.uk/news/2017/march/globe-theatre-plans-progress/
The Globe Theatre Stockton is an iconic art-deco building in the town’s High Street which fell into disuse after early days when people flocked to enjoy the Beatles, Rolling Stone and D’Oyly Carte. Stockton Borough Council has determined to restore The Globe and find a sustainable commercial use for it as part of its regeneration of the town, to deliver cultural, social and economic benefits and to make Stockton a better place to live, work and visit.
BK was commissioned to produce a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Project Business Plan and Heritage Enterprise Scheme Development Appraisal. The project involved working closely with the teams at the Council and with the consultancy team including the design team, interpretation and activity planners, and chartered valuers. A detailed market appraisal was undertaken which determined that a commercial viable operation could be supported for large scale live music events, attracting audiences from a 60 minute drive time. A series of options was developed including the restoration as a theatre or as a live music venue, and further options for governance and management were explored with commercial operators and community operators. This process led to the commitment to restore the Globe as a live music venue with a standing capacity of 3000. The business plan included plans for programme, marketing and operations with financial projections.
Other HLF business plans we have produced include supporting the successful bid for Darlington Civic Theatre.