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The Arts Theatre tenants (Brasrat Ltd) have been served notice by their Landlord, Consolidated St Giles LLP, the freehold owners of 3-11 Great Newport Street, in the West End, putting at risk the planned Christmas production of Puss in Boots.
According to a press release by the tenants of the Arts Theatre,"Brasrat Ltd were granted a three-year lease from November 2008 of the Arts Theatre for use as a theatre and as bars and restaurant. Due to the nature of the site, the Landlord only offered a lease with a three-month break clause, to enable redevelopment."
The press release continues: "Last week, the Landlord served a break notice, terminating the lease as of 13 December 2010. This notice was served without any prior warning, nor any indication that it was being considered. The Landlord has stated that the lease is being terminated for the purpose of putting in a new tenant, which the Landlord states has been prompted principally by their bank, which believes the theatre has been dark since May 2010 and is not being run as a theatre, and that Westminster City Council has made similar comments. Yet the Landlord was fully informed by the managers of the theatre of the extent of the programming, including a six-week run of Lillies on the Land in June and July and confirmed programming for the autumn of 2010 and up to April 2011 in an email on 3 September 2010, which also confirmed that refurbishment was being undertaken. There was no response to that email, other than the notice seeking to terminate the lease served the following week."
The Arts theatre has been under threat for several years now: "In 2008, Laurence Kirschel, the principal owner of Consolidated St Giles LLP, applied to Westminster City Council to develop the site of 3-11 Great Newport St and 1 Upper St Martin’s Lane into a 65-room hotel. Under Westminster City Council planning laws designed to preserve the address of the Arts Theatre for theatrical use, a new theatre must be built as part of any new complex. Laurence Kirschel said that, as part of his £20 million overhaul, he envisaged a 317-capacity, state-of-the-art theatre with hydraulically retractable seats that would reveal an open-plan space that could also be used as an after-show lounge. The plan was for building to start in January 2009 and be completed by January 2011. At the time, Westminster rejected the application."
"The Arts Theatre, with a two-tiered 350-seat auditorium, opened on 20 April 1927 as a members only club for the performance of unlicensed plays, thus avoiding theatre censorship by the Lord Chamberlain's office. In August 1955, Peter Hall, aged 24, directed the English-language premiere of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot at the theatre. Subsequently, from 1956 to 1959, Hall ran the Arts Theatre and directed the UK premieres of Eugene O'Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra and Jean Anouilh’s Waltz of the Toreadors. Other notable UK or world premieres have included Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker, Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane, O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh and Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer. From 1966 to 1988, following a short-lived inaugural capital venture for the RSC, the Unicorn Children’s Theatre set up residence at the Arts. In 2000, after a period of darkness and a £250,000 renovation of the front-of-house bar and café (funded by the theatre management), the Arts became a member of the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), thereby classifying it as a West End theatre, and hosted productions including Another Country, Gagarin Way, Closer to Heaven, The Vagina Monologues, Happy Days, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, Hurricane, Bombshells, the RSC’s Tynan with Corin Redgrave, Fully Committed and Toby Young’s How to Lose Friends and Alienate People."