Open House FAQs
Frequently asked questions about our Open House Appeal
Why start a building project now?
- We began this project in 2018 and secured planning permission in December 2019. It was therefore already underway before the pandemic and is not a direct response to it.
- Since 2013, our public funding has been drastically cut by over £1m per year, meaning we now need to generate 80% of our income. We urgently need to increase the amount of income we generate each year in order to sustain our activities and cover our essential running costs. This work will hugely improve our catering and hospitality spaces, allowing us to diversify our revenue, welcome up to 50,000 more audiences members each year and secure our future.
I thought you had no money and were fighting for survival - how is this a priority?
- The funding for this project is from entirely separate sources that will only support capital building projects, such as the grant from the GBSLEP which is drawn from central government ‘Growing Places’ funding. However, the long term aims of Open House project is all about increasing our earned income in order to diversify our income streams and secure our future. As a result, the Open House project will directly support our activities on and off stage for many years to come.
- Alongside this appeal, our fundraising team will continue to raise restricted project funding for programmes such as our Foundry artist development scheme and our extensive work with young people and local communities.
Shouldn't you be spending money on Covid recovery and artists/freelancers?
- As above, the funding is specifically for capital building projects, but the additional income we will be able to generate with a more accessible entrance and improved Front of House, restaurant and bar areas will be directly reinvested in our core activities including artist development and creative learning and will in turn create new opportunities for freelancers. Open House will ensure the future viability of The REP and allow us to support the next generation of artists and theatre makers.
What about your Cultural Recovery Funding?
- Our recent CRF grants from DCMS were specifically to ensure organisations would survive throughout lockdowns until indoor venues were able to reopen. The funding was restricted to specific costs incurred in the period up to the end of June 2021. None of our emergency funding in relation to the pandemic will be spent on this project.
The foyer isn't old and why didn't you do this in 2013 with the last refurbishment?
- Our previous redevelopment alongside the building of the Library of Birmingham focussed solely on the back stage areas of The REP and the creation of the Studio Theatre. The project scope and budget did not stretch to our public spaces or other auditoria.
I've recently made donations, but I didn't want to support something like this. Will you spend existing donations on this project? Can I still choose to donate to The REP but not Open House?
- No previous donations will be used to support this project. We will always be clear when gifts are contributing to the Open House appeal. Donors can inform us that they would like to make a donation to our other work and choose not to support this project. We will be extremely grateful as ever for all donations and the generosity of our audiences and supporters.
What difference will it make?
- Open House is essential to the financial resilience and long-term future of the REP. The project will transform and improve the visitor experience for our customers, creating a welcoming and inclusive entrance and foyer, which opens out directly on to the Square. By creating fabulous new public spaces, with enhanced café and restaurant facilities, we will attract new customers and audiences and enhance the experience for everyone. Open House will also enable more informal performances in the new bar and café, such as music, comedy and spoken word, and crucially help us earn more money to reinvest into our artistic and charitable activities.
There has been constant building work in the area for the past few years, how long will this take and will you be closed?
- The impact of this project on the surrounding area will be minimal and we will remain open throughout. In order to mitigate any further disruption to the square, our project timescale has been condensed with exterior works being completed in just 5 months and we will be able to welcome audiences safely through our current joint entrance with the Library of Birmingham. We will also be temporarily repurposing alternative space in order to provide all necessary facilities including the sale of refreshments alongside performances.
The REP is a historic building and example of Brutalism, isn't it protected?
- No, The REP does not have listed status and is not a designated heritage asset. The REP’s original Architect Graham Winteringham is very supportive of the project and its sensitive approach to honouring his design. Graham always wanted there to be a main central entrance in the façade and this project is finally realising that ambition.