Government Promises £5m for Prescot Shakespeare Theatre
Tory Chancellor George Osborne announced £5 million towards a theatre and college for Prescot in today’s government budget (Wednesday 16 March).
“In the 400th anniversary of the great playwright’s death, I’ve heard the sonnets from the Right Honourable Member for Knowsley [Labour MP George Howarth],” Mr Osborne told the House of Commons, “and we commit to a new Shakespeare North theatre there on the site of the first indoor theatre outside of our capital.”
The promise comes just a few days after Knowsley Council pledged £6 million from reserves, and two months after Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament the plans were an “excellent proposal.”
This brings the total local and national government investment in the theatre to £11 million. The projected budget is £19 million.
Independent charity Shakespeare North are behind the plans. They want to link Prescot to the Bard’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon and the Globe theatre in London to complete what they call the “Shakespearean Triangle.”
The 350-seat theatre would be of Tudor design – a nod to the late 16th-century Prescot Playhouse, the first free-standing theatre outside London – and the associated college would be the only of its kind in the country, dedicated to teaching original Shakespearean acting techniques.
The planning application, for the current Mill Street Car Park site, is being considered by Knowsley Council and is awaiting a decision in April 2016.