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Historic Epstein Theatre to close


It’s been confirmed that Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre will close at the end of the month.

Liverpool City Council said that due to “unprecedented financial pressures” on its budget, it couldn’t renew or extend the current lease or offer any further financial support to the operators of the theatre.

Currently the council owns the freehold of Hanover House and then leases the building to a commercial property landlord and then sub-leases the theatre back from them.

Epstein Entertainments was awarded the contract to operate the Epstein Theatre on behalf of the Council in October 2018. In the management agreement, the council covered a proportion of the rent, service charge, utilities, and maintenance work up to this date.

“I am truly heartbroken that Epstein Entertainments are having to vacate the beautiful Epstein Theatre in Liverpool city centre. Since opening the theatre to the public in December 2021 we have worked tirelessly to make the business a success, but unfortunately with the costs we are now facing, it’s become an impossible task,” said Artistic and Operations Director Chantelle Nolan.

“The work required to maintain the theatre to HSE standards and comply with legal requirements have become a severe drain on the company’s finances. Unfortunately, without Liverpool City Council’s support, it impossible to make it a financial success. We hope the people of Liverpool appreciate that we have done everything within our power to keep the venue open.  Thank you to the audiences for their continued support and I hope one day it will reopen again as a theatre space.” 

Since the 1960’s the council has always financially supported and subsidised the theatre, currently this figure is in excess of £100,000 per year.  

The company’s requests for the council to provide support of £50,000 per year, for the next 5 years to save the venue were unsuccessful.

Epstein Entertainments said that it had continually searched for funding opportunities including advice from Arts Council England and it had also investigated alternative company structures.

“This closure is a huge loss for the Liverpool City Region, we are inundated with daily requests from programmers and theatre companies wanting to use the venue. Since we took over, we have worked tirelessly and turned the venue around, from coming out of a pandemic, to playing to over 80% capacity houses but, it’s sadly just not enough,” added Artistic and Communications Director Bill Elms.

“The costs to cover the rent, rates, service charges, utility bills, general maintenance, and essential constant upgrades required in the old historic building makes the proposed offer untenable. 

“It’s heart-breaking that the theatre is forced to close when there is such positive signs of growth and stability.

“It’s a unique venue, an historic gem and a venue that fill’s a huge gap in the current Liverpool theatre landscape as a mid-scale receiving house. We have fought and thought of everything we can to keep the theatre open, right up to the very last minute, but without financial support, the costs are simply unworkable for us, or for any other operator, to work with.” 

The Grade II listed 380 seat theatre has been used as a a performance space since 1913. In 2011 it reopened as the Epstein Theatre, named after Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles.

In the 18 months since it reopened it has hosted almost 150 productions and had 76k audience members, providing employment to 40 people.

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