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A Much Bigger Box Of Chocolates!

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MamasDoin'Fine
Broadway Legend
joined:9/28/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/28/08
A Much Bigger Box Of Chocolates!#1
Posted: 11/18/10 at 9:18pm
The Russian owners of the Menier Chocolate Factory have unveiled ambitious plans to expand the London venue, adding a 300-seat theatre and restaurant in an adjacent complex that will also feature offices and a rocket-shaped, multi-storey apartment block.

The Menier building in Southwark is owned by Henry George Holdings Limited. The company’s St Petersburg-based directors have decided to turn the property to the west of the Chocolate Factory, which they also own and currently operate as a car park, into a development featuring Menier Two, an art academy with a gallery and cafe, rehearsal rooms, offices and loft apartments topped by a ‘museum of vodka’.

Don Riley is the London liaison for the owners and oversaw the creation of the original Menier.
'The Russian owners have tracked the success of David Babani’s productions and are happy to build upon it. The Russians admire cultural leverage - they see 150 seats at the Menier leveraged to 1,500 in the West End or Broadway [when Menier shows transfer]. They’re big optimists and see cultural leverage expanding, with future Menier hit shows being transferred to Moscow and St Petersburg'.

If planning permission is granted, the Menier Two would feature a basement theatre and a ground-floor restaurant. These would be run alongside the Menier’s current restaurant and 180-seat theatre, possibly also by Babani and his team.
The owners see building an arts venue as a way of increasing the value of the residential and commercial property included in the scheme. The building will also feature seven storeys of commercial space and a “living-space rocket” containing loft apartments, topped with a cone-shaped vodka museum. The income from these would be “essential for paying for the build of the artistic space”.

Nikolai Amiridi, a director of Henry George Holdings, explained: “Leo Tolstoy built a school, a hospital and a theatre from the surplus rents from his land holdings. We are doing this but using the surplus from the included commercial and residential space.”
He added: “We calculate a minimum 15% premium for this space when there is a successful arts venue below instead of a Moo Moo [Russian restaurant chain] or a Sainsbury’s. We reckon on 10,000 square metres of commercial space being able to afford up to 15%, say 1,500 square metres, of high-class artistic space.
“In Tolstoy’s time, good harvests were the key. Nowadays, it is about air space for successful businesses and quality apartments. The truth is that government subsidy distorts art. We need planning permission, not state aid.”

The building has been designed by architect Nikita Yaveyn from Studio 44 in St Petersburg. The developers expect to go to pre-planning with Southwark Council in the coming weeks and hope that full planning permission will be obtained by mid-2011, so the new theatre could be ready to open in 2014.

The Menier is one of very few full-time producing venues in the UK to operate without government subsidy.
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Phantom of London
Broadway Legend
joined:3/26/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/26/08
A Much Bigger Box Of Chocolates!#2
Posted: 11/18/10 at 11:26pm
If you look at New York, you have fringe theatres galore, which benefits the Broadway theatre scene, London's has a very poor fringe theatre scene, this would be greatly London theatre and I welcome the imitative.
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MamasDoin'Fine
Broadway Legend
joined:9/28/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/28/08
A Much Bigger Box Of Chocolates!#2
Posted: 11/19/10 at 8:20am
I welcome the vodka museum!
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Boybooshka
Leading Actor
joined:10/25/06
Leading Actor
joined:
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A Much Bigger Box Of Chocolates!#3
Posted: 11/19/10 at 7:23pm
Vodka in a museum, what a waste! put it in a glass.
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MamasDoin'Fine
Broadway Legend
joined:9/28/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/28/08
A Much Bigger Box Of Chocolates!#4
Posted: 11/19/10 at 7:31pm
My place is a gin museum (some say the original Gin Palace) and everyone gets a free sample!

Updated On: 11/19/10 at 07:31 PM
Jonwo
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/06
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/16/06
A Much Bigger Box Of Chocolates!#5
Posted: 11/19/10 at 8:53pm
Sounds interesting but I wonder if the current Chocolate Factory will move to the bigger venue or will they another artistic director and make it a sister venue to the Menier.