What’s in a name? I don’t think that Shakespeare was thinking about Leeds theatres when he wrote that but it just shows what a forward-thinking chap he was.
Leeds Grand Theatre & Opera House Ltd, the company behind Leeds Grand Theatre (obviously), City Varieties Music Hall and Hyde Park Picture House has changed its name to Leeds Heritage Theatres, which is a lot more inclusive and sums the venues up a treat.
The announcement was due to be made in April but, because of the pandemic, has been postponed until now. I glean both good news and bad news from this. The good news is that it shows a spirit of optimism in things getting back to normal in the near future, otherwise why go to all that trouble and cost. The bad news is that if there had been no lockdown and the rebrand done in April, we would have possibly been invited to a celebratory bash and given a cup of tea and a piece of cake. On balance I would much rather forego the calories and have the reassurance that there is some light at the end of this very long tunnel.
The company is a registered charity controlled by Leeds City Council and has owned the Grand Theatre since 1973, although it took over the lease in 1969. In 1987 it acquired the City Varieties and added the Hyde Park Picture House to its portfolio in 1989.
I am sure that everyone is familiar with the history of these wonderful buildings whose combined age is over 400 years, and if you aren’t why have you not been reading my articles? On the naughty step with you!
The announcement not only instills a sense of hope for the future but also draws wide attention to the value of these theatres and how much poorer our city would be should we ever lose them. I, for one, am putting my trust in Leeds Heritage Theatres to see us through these strange times and come out the other side stronger than ever. They have been on the edge of the abyss before and thrived from the experience.
The new company has applied for government grants which have been made available but, as competition for these funds is fierce, it is also asking that people who care about our city’s heritage buy tickets, memberships, vouchers at
or just make a donation out of the goodness of their heart. If you would like to help out in the fight to make these three pieces of Leeds’ history a part of its future too then please go to
https://donate.leedsgrandtheatre.com/ and give what you can.
I began with a quote from Shakespeare and will end with another. ‘Let’s get back to normal, sunshine, so I can have a brew and a bun, and see actors perform the plays wot I wrote!.’ Or was that Ernie Wise? No, it was definitely Shakespeare, Wise didn’t drink tea.
See you all again soon.
Photographs provided by Leeds Heritage Theatres