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Historic music Hall needs rescuing after failed funding bid

PUBLISHED: 16:24 27 May 2011

Inside Wilton's Music Hall in Graces Alley

Inside Wilton's Music Hall in Graces Alley

Archant

The world’s oldest surviving grand music hall is desperate to find a rescuer after the Heritage Lottery Fund announced this week that it has failed in it’s £2.3m funding application.

The Heritage Lottery Fund announced this week that it was unable to support the restoration project of the rare Grade II listed Georgian building in Whitechapel.

The fund’s chief executive Carole Souter, said: “Wilton’s Music Hall is a unique and precious part of our theatrical heritage. The Trust’s plans were well articulated and ranked highly for our support. However, this was a competitive round of funding and, in spite of huge enthusiasm for the project, we simply did not have enough money to fund it as other projects were even stronger.”

The statement has left the music hall’s artistic director Frances Mayhew feeling “confused”.

“I don’t know what a more worthy cause is? —with a building literally falling down as much as ours. Half the building doesn’t even have a roof and every week we try to keep out water, fill in holes and repair floorboards,” she explained in frustration.

The charity behind the music hall will now have to raise £3.8 m.

“We cannot wait four years for another round of Lottery heritage funding. If we do nothing, by autumn this year we would be closed down. But we won’t let this happen, Ms Mayhew insisted.

They now have to try smaller organisation for funding and none of them would be able to match the level of Lottery funding available, Ms Mayhew explained.

“We urgently need a rescuer, maybe our only hope now is a rich individual such as city banker or someone in the film industry,” she urged.

Income for the theatre tends to come from private hire, such as its use as a film location, with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law recently filming there for a forthcoming Sherlock Homes sequel.

But the proceeds, Ms Mayhew said, are no where near enough to cover the half a million pounds spent on repairing the building since it failed in its previous lottery funding application four years ago.

Visit www.wiltons.org.uk to support the music hall.


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