£1m Donation Makes Young Vic Rebuild Plans RealDate: 11 September 2003
The Young Vic's redevelopment plans have been made "real" today, after the surprise donation of £1 million by a London businessman and admirer of the South Bank theatre.
Patrick McKenna - who was formerly with Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group and is now founder and chief executive of Ingenious, an entertainment finance and media group - presented the cheque to the Young Vic after attending a gala performance last night of Peter Brook's Le Costume.
Speaking to Whatsonstage.com, Young Vic artistic director David Lan explained the significance of McKenna's gift: "It means a great deal. It means that the whole idea of rebuilding this theatre becomes real. That's major because the reason we're doing all this is that the building is literally falling down around us. If we don't rebuild, the place will disappear, it will be gone."
Lan announced more than two years ago that rebuilding of the architecturally renowned but rapidly disintegrating 33-year-old theatre was an urgent necessity (See News, 18 Jul 2001). Since then, the Young Vic team has been working on putting together a fundraising campaign, which will be officially launched in February.
The aim is to begin construction in June 2004, by which time 85% of the £12.5 million required must be raised. Lan is hoping to raise other large chunks of money care of the Arts Council and a National Lottery grant, which he's very "optimistic of getting".
The new theatre will be built on the same site. It will retain the "internationally famous" semi-in-the-round auditorium which, Lan says, "works well and we want to keep that, but everything else will go." The theatre will be closed for an expected two years during the renovations, though the Young Vic intends to continue producing new work elsewhere.
McKenna's million will cover the costs of the design process already being undertaken by Haworth Tompkins, the same architects behind the refurbishment of the Royal Court Theatre and the Almeida's site-specific seasons at Gainsborough Studios and King's Cross. Other donations made to date have come from various Charitable trusts and public funders such as the Single Regeneration Board (Waterloo Project Board) and the estate of the late designer Maria Bjornson.
- by Terri Paddock