The theatre has been forced to move from its Arcola Street base in a former textile factory, which it has occupied for the past ten years, as the building's landlords move forwards with plans to turn the site into a block of luxury flats.
The Arcola has now launched a £150,000 fundraising campaign to help fund the move into the former Colourworks factory, which it will lease from Hackney Council, reopening on 7 January 2011. It is hoped that the fundraising drive, led by artist Antony Gormley and fashion designer Katharine Hamnett, will enable the theatre to recreate the feel of its current home at its new Ashwin Street address.
One of the first performing arts venues in the UK to place environmental sustainability at the heart of its programming and operations, the Arcola will also ensure that these values are continued in the conversion of their new building. The theatre is currently recruiting a team of volunteers to help them work on clearing the site, with the company's work with engineers developing sustainable technologies being included in incubator units within the new base.
The new theatre will enlarge the Arcola's main space capacity with new building being able to accomodate 200 audinence members, an increase from 160 at present. An enlarged second studio with a capacity of 100, up from 60, will be created as well as a third studio to house the Arcola’s youth and community programme. Office space, as well as rehearsal rooms and a cafe will make up the rest of the building.
Speaking to the Stage about his plans for the building, the Arcola's artistic director Mehmet Ergen said: “We were trying to negotiate to stay at the Arcola Street premises, but the landlords are moving very fast with wanting to put flats on top, so they gave us our notice and we need to leave by this Christmas. We’re creating a new space, we’re not just using it as it is. We’re taking the floor out to make a much higher ceiling and a much-improved main space. It will be a big step up for the Arcola."
Donations towards the Arcola's fundraising campaign are now being accepted, with Anthony Gormley having donated an original artwork which will be auctioned during a special gala event in December. Donations can be made through the theatre's website or at the box office.