Mayor's £1m boost for Lyric

10 April 2013

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today hailed London's theatres for their continuing success and innovation during a visit to the Lyric Hammersmith, which is being transformed into a state-of-the-art cultural and educational centre that serves theatregoers as well as the community.


The Lyric contributed to another bumper year for London's theatre industry, which in 2012 saw 14 million attendances worth almost £530 million in sales. It was a year that saw transfers from the subsidised theatre triumph, not just in the West End, but also on Broadway, including the National Theatre's One Man, Two Guvnors.


Over the last decade theatre audiences in the capital have increased by 21%, with revenues up by 65% and the Mayor is committed to supporting this dynamic sector, as well as working with London & Partners and the Society of London Theatre to promote productions to Londoners and visitors to the capital.


The Mayor has given £1million of funding towards the redevelopment of the Lyric Hammersmith, which will create the most significant cultural development in west London for decades. With the Mayor's funding, the Lyric will enhance its critically acclaimed education programme and build on its reputation as a leading professional theatre, which also supports and trains young people.


The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'I am thrilled to be able to support the Lyric at this significant time in its history. It is a cultural beacon for west London and a shining example of the continuing success our theatres have in attracting audiences and putting themselves at the heart of the community.


‘The success of London theatre is down to the fantastically rich variety of programming and exciting innovations, from live screenings of productions at cinemas to performances staged outdoors or in unusual locations. At a critical time for funding, our theatres are showing real imagination in the way they attract audiences and funding and I will do all I can to support this world-beating – and vital – component of our cultural landscape.'


Lyric Hammersmith Executive Director Jessica Hepburn said: 'It is an honour to welcome the Mayor of London to the Lyric Hammersmith today as a major supporter of our capital development project. It is especially heartening to see the city continuing in its commitment to improving the lives of young Londoners; opening up new pathways to education and culture all across the city.'


The Mayor is also backing new initiatives to bring theatrical and live performance to more Londoners, including 'Circulate', a new three-year programme of outdoor performance, which will see British and international artists touring outer London boroughs. Funded with £498,900 from Arts Council England, Circulate builds on the London 2012 cultural festival, bringing together The Albany, Watermans, Harrow Arts Centre, TARA Arts, Millfield Arts Centre, artsdepot, Emergency Exit Arts, as well as the Greater London Authority and Audience Agency.


Circulate is one example of how theatres and other cultural organisations are devising new ways to engage audiences. Another recently announced collaboration includes the National Theatre and Punchdrunk's upcoming production of 'The Drowned Man', which is part of a wave of productions that builds on an increasing appetite for more immersive theatrical experiences outdoors or site-specific locations.


Nick Starr, Executive Director at the National Theatre, said: 'London is the pre-eminent world city for theatre. This is because it combines a particular British talent, an appetite for trying new things, the vestiges of a public-service ethos, a liking for the wayward and the maverick, and a deep respect for the connection between artists and audiences.


'Whether it's Phantom, War Horse, The Audience, Matilda, Jerusalem, or the latest show by Punchdrunk, everyone in the London theatre knows they are part of the same eco-system. Elsewhere in the world, there's a profound and ideological schism between the popular theatre and the art theatre. In London, we know we're all part of the same organism. Last year that accounted for 14 million attendances, so we're obviously doing something right.'


Julian Bird, Chief Executive Society of London Theatre, commented: 'London theatre is going through a golden period, shown in the talent nominated for this month’s Olivier Awards, and advance sales have never been stronger. The Lyric Hammersmith gives a perfect example of the pivotal role theatres can play in developing our communities. As part of the My Theatre Matters! campaign we are inviting the public to shout about how important theatres are to their lives and their communities.'


Moira Sinclair, Executive Director London, Arts Council England, said: 'This new development will enable the Lyric to be a national leader in its work both on and off stage. It’ll give so many more opportunities for young people to learn and get involved in an environment which will support, unleash and nurture creative potential. I’m sure local people will be seeing the many benefits of this investment and the development shows just how important young people are to the theatre, and the theatre to young people.'


Notes to editors

Lyric Hammersmith

The project will give the existing building its first major facelift in 30 years as well as developing the site to the west of and directly adjacent to the Lyric. The new facilities will include drama, dance and recording studios, an editing suite, music practice rooms, a film & TV studio, a screening room, a digital playspace, a sensory space for children with disabilities, props and costume stores, wardrobe and scenic workshops, meeting and seminar rooms, staff offices and social spaces, whilst the existing building will be furnished with a new bar and café and will benefit from improved sustainability.


The Lyric has recently become the first cultural organisation to be awarded a 3 star Industry Green rating, and in recognition of this achievement, was presented with the title of Greenest Venue for the second year running at the 2012 London Theatre Consortium Sustainability Awards. Through the capital project, the Lyric is also working towards achieving a BREEAM rating of excellent for the entire building – the government’s sustainability kitemark across all public buildings.

Young People's Strategy

The Lyric's work with young people falls into five strands:

  • An extensive programme of activities and productions for children under 11 and their families,
  • The ‘Creative Learning Programme’ which focuses on the Lyric’s work with all levels of the formal education sector and aims to support the delivery of the national curriculum and provide extra-curricular enrichment activities,
  • The ‘Lyric Young Company’, a varied programme of open-access activities delivered during evenings, weekends and school holidays offering young people the opportunity to attend acting, writing and singing courses led by top industry professionals and the chance to perform in professional Lyric productions,
  • Our ‘Targeted Work’ with young people who need special intervention and support to help them to achieve their potential. This might include young people who are not in education, employment or training, young people who have offended or are at risk of offending, young people who are in care, or young people with disabilities, and
  • The ‘Next Generation’ strand of work which aims to diversify the future of the cultural and creative industry workforce by giving young people their first paid steps in the industry.

Key funders

As well as funding from the Mayor of London, the project has also received major funding from: Arts Council England, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and the Department for Education.

In addition to this, there has also been a circa £1million fundraising appeal which has been supported by numerous trusts, foundations, businesses and individuals.

The Lyric is now in the final stages of fundraising with its online public appeal.

For more information Simon Thompson, Press Manager: [email protected] / 020 8741 6870. Or visit the website: