And the winner is … Leeds Playhouse! Theatre Building of the Year title awarded to a Yorkshire venue for the first time
Leeds Playhouse has been named Theatre Building of the Year 2020 at The Stage Awards, which paid tribute to its ‘complete transformation’ in the wake of a major £16m redevelopment.
This is the first time the Theatre Building of the Year title has been awarded to an organisation based outside of London.
The awards, which recognise ‘outstanding achievement in UK theatre’, were judged by, among others, Alistair Smith, editor of The Stage, associate editor Lyn Gardner, reviews editor Natasha Tripney and Daily Mail entertainment columnist Baz Bamigboye.
In presenting the award, they said: “Leeds Playhouse has undergone a complete transformation. Thanks to the remarkable development overseen by Page\Park Architects, it boasts a new strikingly designed exterior to greet visitors and significant improvements to its public spaces.
“Care has been taken to make the space as accessible and welcoming as possible, from the toilet provision – the theatre boasts a Changing Places toilet for people whose needs are not met by standard accessible toilets, as well as gender-neutral facilities – to well-located wheelchair spaces that can be accessed via the main entrances to the auditoria. But the greatest change is one of visibility: from the Chumbawumba-inspired neon artwork on the exterior wall to the stylish, inviting entrance, the theatre now looks out towards the city.”
The prestigious Theatre Building of the Year title marks the start of the Playhouse’s first full year in its redeveloped home, which it reopened to the public in October 2019. Its dramatic transformation, supported by project partners including Arts Council England and Leeds City Council, resulted in improved access to and around the theatre, a city-facing entrance, improved sustainability, and a new studio space, the Bramall Rock Void.
Leeds Playhouse Executive Director Robin Hawkes, who accepted the award at the Royal Opera House, London, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that our wonderful new building and the hard work that has gone into its creation have been recognised nationally. I would like to pay tribute to our architects Page/Park, who shared our transformative vision and finally gave us a building that matches our ambition, to our valued project partners for their unwavering support, and to my wonderful Playhouse colleagues for their commitment and dedication through the months of dust and disruption.
“It has been a real joy to welcome people back into the building, to see it being so well-used by so many, and to see it alive and thriving. This award recognises the hard work that has gone into the complete transformation of Leeds Playhouse and propels us forward into our next exciting chapter.”