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ATG's Howard Panter brands West End theatres 'not fit for purpose'

The theatre owner has called for extensive rebuilding of London's historic venues

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Howard Panter with his wife and ATG co-founder Rosemary Squire
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Howard Panter, chief executive of the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), the UK's largest theatre owner, has said that most West End theatres are "not fit for purpose".

As reported in The Stage, Panter recently told the International Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference that the West End should seek to emulate Broadway, which has seen a number of major theatres rebuilt.

Of the current West End playhouses, of which ATG owns 11, he said: "The trouble is, there will never be enough room in those buildings for enough leg space, enough bar space, enough showers for artists, whatever it might be. There simply won't."

The state of the West End's historic theatres has been in the spotlight recently following the collapse of part of the Apollo Theatre ceiling in December.

Westminster Council has indicated that ancient building materials were the "principal cause" of the incident.

Panter, who co-founded ATG with his wife Rosemary Squire, was keen to emphasise that he is not advocating the destruction of theatre buildings, only their refurbishment: "This is not about taking away theatre, it's about making theatres better in the theatre capital of the world."

What do you think? Should the West End's historic playhouses be rebuilt?