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Curtain Up On Coventry Culture, Curtains Down On Theatres?


Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre is to see a £4.8M redevelopment, the first refurbishment for 61 years, as the city prepares to be the UK's Capital of Culture in 2021.

Coventry City Council has given planning permission for the Grade II-listed building to be refurbished, Coventry Live reports.

Much of the interior fit-out dates to 1958, in the wake of the Festival of Britain, and has a valued mid-century look.

The refurbishment comes as theatres face a new threat: a hike in business rates liabilities which could hinder an already marginal business operating at the edge of financial risk.

Figures from Colliers International show that theatres and performance venues face their third set of rises since the 2017 revaluation, with many bills double what they were three years ago.

Some have seen eye-watering rises. The Royal Opera House's rates bill is up 203%. The Hammersmith Apollo will have seen a 118% hike over the period, and is now paying a bill of around £194K a year, compared to less than £90K before the revaluation. Even smaller venues, like Wimbledon's theatre, face 50% increases.

“That’s a lot of seats and ice creams to sell," Colliers International's Head of Business Rates John Webber said.

The hike is because high-value properties in England (over £100K rateable value), which often includes larger venues in the theatre world, are affected by ‘upwards phasing’ in their bills. This year it means rises capped at 49% plus inflation.