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Lambeth and Southwark lend Old Vic £7.5m for community centre

The Old Vic sits on the boundary between Lambeth and Southwark councils.

Lambeth and Southwark councils have agreed to loan the Old Vic theatre £7.5m to fund a new education and community centre at the theatre.

The two councils have put £3.75m in funding each towards the creation of The Annex, a new £12m centre aimed at engaging young people in the borough.

The new building will offer the community a range of employability, social mobility, wellbeing and community projects.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, Lambeth Council leader, said: ‘The Old Vic is a cultural icon and we are incredibly proud to have it in Lambeth on the boundary with Southwark. Increasingly our role as a Council is to harness the energy and dynamism of the borough in a way that benefits all our communities.

‘We are determined to open up our creative industries to the diverse, but often under-represented, talented young people in the borough, particularly those from BAME backgrounds. Partnerships with organisations such as The Old Vic are crucial if we are going to achieve that.

‘As a result I believe that the support we are set to discuss providing The Old Vic for this project matches our important goals and ambitions for the community.’

The Old Vic already offers communities in Lambeth and Southwark a range of employment, educational and community-based programmes.

However, the theatre currently has limited space to expand its operations, meaning many of its new projects would have to be run off-site.

The new five-storey Annex, set to open in 2022, will expand the Old Vic’s total floor space by a fifth and allow it to double its community work.

New projects the Old Vic hopes to host include the pilot of a pupil safety zone at key times of the day, drop-in skills and training sessions, a new home for community choirs, and free Christmas events to bring generations together.

Kate Varah, The Old Vic’s executive director, called the Annex a ‘once in a generation opportunity’ for the Old Vic.

Varah said: ‘With the visionary collaboration of Lambeth and Southwark Councils, we will together ensure that this vibrant theatre sustains financially and that its wide-reaching social engagement is so deeply embedded that there can never be any doubt about the value of The Old Vic to those it serves: a civic resource, a beacon for cultural adventure, a place where everyone can explore in an environment where they feel truly welcome.’

The funding agreement signed off by Lambeth Council will see the authority providing the Old Vic Theatre Trust with a 10-year loan at an agreed rate of interest.

Photo Credit – Matt Brown

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