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Galleon Theatre Company leave Greenwich Playhouse as hostel operator fails to renew lease

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Please note: This story has been updated following a response from Beds and Bars.

Galleon Theatre Company will leave Greenwich Playhouse this April after its lease was not renewed by hostel operators Beds and Bars.

Galleon Theatre Company, who have been resident at the venue since 1995, has reported that the venue will close on 10 April 2012 however Beds and Bars have since announced their intention to operate the space themselves.

Beds and Bars operate the Greenwich St Christopher's Inn in which the Playhouse is situated as part of 22 backpackers hotels, bars, nightclubs and restaurants in seven countries.

Although the Galleon Theatre Company had stated that Beds and Bars were making the move to "exploit commercial opportunities offered by the Olympics," hostel operator's group managing director responded in a statement that Beds and Bars "intend to keep the space to be used much in the same way as it is now, and has been in the past."

Located on the forecourt of Greenwich railway station, the Greenwich Playhouse is an an 84-seat venue and occupies a building which has housed a studio theatre since 1989. Galleon took residency at the venue in 1995, averting its closure in 1998 and re-opening it in 2000. Staging 12 to 14 productions a year, Galleon estimate their their attendance figures at 15,000 people per year.

Beds and Bars purchased the freehold of the Greenwich site from the Punch pub company in July 2009. The company today advised that assertions they were seeking to capitalise on the Olympics were not correct and that Galleon Theatre Company were advised their lease would not be renewed in June last year.

Galleon Theatre Company will now stage The Duchess of Malfi as the their final production at the venue. The show, which will run from 21 February to 18 March 2012, will be directed and produced by Galleon's directors Bruce Jamieson and Alice de Sousa respectively.

In a press statement de Sousa said of the closure: "It is regrettable that the theatre’s landlord Beds and Bars, who have benefitted for 11 years from generous revenue generated by the theatre’s substantial trade, should have their sights focused on such short term objectives as the Olympics."

Keith Knowles, managing director of the Beds and Bars group responded in a statement: "We would like to see the space used more for all aspects of the arts, and would be happy for you to let people know it's there for this purpose."

The Greenwich Playhouse and Galleon Theatre Company are now in discussions with Greenwich Council with hopes of securing a new home in the borough.


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