Breathing new life into the Old Rep

Company sought to run historic theatre.

One of Birmingham city centre’s oldest landmarks is set to be given a new lease of life as the city council looks to outside help to breathe new life into the Old Rep theatre.

A report to cabinet on 16th December will ask for approval to identify an organisation interested in operating the theatre for up to five years, with an option to extend. The Old Rep – the first theatre in England to be designed for repertory – has been home to the Birmingham Stage Company since 1992 and a long-standing venue for amateur theatre companies, including its current tenants the Birmingham Stage Company.

Councillor Ian Ward, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, says of the proposal, “In addition to its current use, the Old Rep is an ideal place for young people to develop theatrical skills, whether as performers or behind the scenes, and there is no suitable space in the city at present.

“However, given the difficult financial situation we are in we simply don’t have the funding for proactive programming or marketing in addition to the building and staffing budget. This means the theatre is not being used to its potential, with no programme for 20 weeks of the year. If we find the right company to run the theatre we can breathe new life into this wonderful space and build on the work already being done here.”

If the tender is successful the new operator would be managed by the city council’s culture commissioning service which looks after relationships with funded arts organisations, including the mac and Birmingham Museums Trust. The two full-time and other part-time staff members at the old Rep are likely to be transferred to the successful tenderer.