Friday, 4 February 2011


Issue: Hackney Empire – not just for pantos?

Convener(s): Nicola Stanhope

Participants: Louise, Gary, Mark, Ed, Jo , Hugh

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Oh no it doesn’t!
Oh yes it does!

Issue: How to use keep the Empire alive and relevant in the 21st Century
• 1300 seat Frank Matcham theatre
• Proscenium staging/orchestra pit
• In Central Hackney

• Arts Council support has not in the past forced HE to shoe-horn the wrong sort of programming in – but what is the right sort of programming?
• Keep the theatre open as much as possible and maximise use of the space around it:
o Open every Sunday night for variety/cabaret/comedy – that’s the type of work that the space best lends itself to
o Explore opportunities for regular televised shows (e.g. Russell Brand at Hackney Empire is STILL shown on TV all the time)
o Use the space for what is looks best there:
• Comedy/variety (see above)
• Dance
• Musicals (e.g. bring in shows with a following – “Dreamboats and Petticoats” mentioned as an example
• Recession programming – people just want to have fun
o The Empire Café – all day food and drink offering – all about creating a buzz
o Encourage use of Town Hall square for events (e.g. tie in with Street Dance Festival in theatre itself)
o Ocean – over the road – re-opening – an opportunity not a threat

• Complement other local arts offerings – bring them into the space and/or share marketing but don’t do stuff that others do better (e.g. complement don’t imitate the Arcola offering)
• Is this now Hackney Central’s time to come good? Stoke Newington-Liverpool Street corridor is working but Hackney Central-Clapton regeneration just not getting there. Can HE make this happen or just wait to be beneficiary if it does?
• What became of the studio space? Can that be re-opened? For what sort of work?
• Take a leaf out of Theatre Royal Stratford East’s book and perform on the stage area as a studio – i.e. audience on stage
• How to harness the energy of local creatives? Hackney is cheap enough for them to be able to live there – make a virtue of that!
• Community plays/youth theatre/TIE/local interests groups – all on HE’s agenda
• Call on support from the network of theatre professionals who have a fondness for HE for any reason
• Grow the concept of Seasons – lots of niche ideas; need some sort of linking
• Speak to LOCOG – get something out of 2012!

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