Established as an arts centre for Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia in 1977, the Drill Hall acquisition will allow RADA to "ensure the Academy’s financial self sufficiency in the future". Through hiring out sought after central London rehearsal and studio space RADA will have "further opportunity for income generation and sustaining the charity as it continues into its second century of operation."
Initial plans for the building, which was built in 1882 as a drill hall for the Bloomsbury Rifles, include housing RADA's expansion, develop its venue hire operation and continuing performing arts, educational and community theatre opportunities undertaken by Drill Hall's previous operators Central London Arts since the 1980s.
Drill Hall's long history with the arts began in the early 1900s when it was the building Diaghilev’s famous Ballet Russes rehearsed with Nijinsky. During the war years Ralph Reader rehearsed and performed many of the Gang Shows at the Drill Hall, and in the late 1960s the Tate’s McAlpine Exhibition was housed there.
The Drill Hall includes numerous rehearsal and meeting rooms in addition to a 200-seat and a 50-seat studio theatre space.
The Drill Hall will now form RADA's third central London premises. Established in 1904, the Academy's three theatres, rehearsal rooms, foyer bar and cafe and administration offices are housed on Gower Street. A second building just doors down from the Drill Hall on Chenies Street is the location of further rehearsal rooms, the refectory, additional offices and RADA's library.
In a statement on the Drill Hall website Central London Arts' Julie Parker and Mavis Seaman advise they will continue to produce large-scale theatre and community-theatre events across London and the UK, now operating as Outhouse London.