Head of UK's Largest Theatre Group Calls West End Venues 'Not Fit for Purpose'

Head of UK's Largest Theatre Group Calls West End Venues 'Not Fit for Purpose'

The UK's Telegraph reports today that the head of UK's largest theatre group believes the majority of West End theatre venues are not 'fit for purpose' and should be rebuilt.

The report comes just months after London's Apollo theatre collapsed during a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time, in which 76 audience members were injured by falling debris. It was later discovered that the incident was due to the deterioraton of century-old materials which held up timber frames.

Howard Panter, chief executive of the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), commented at this week's International Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference that London theatres, some of which are more than a century old, were not constructed to be in use for this long of a period, nor to house modern-day audiences.

"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," he explains. "There simply won't." He added, "This is not about taking away theatre, it's about making theatres better in the theatre capital of the world."

Panter, whose ATG group owns 40 theatres in the UK and Broadway, believes Britain should follow the example of U.S. theater owners who have demolished and rebuilt their houses, "without any diminution of values or standards".

Back in 2000, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber commented on the "shocking" state of West End theatres, calling for the demolition of the Apollo Theatre in particular.

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