The St James theatre may still be in its infancy, but the Victoria-based venue has won the public’s hearts, earning a place on the first ever publically voted My Theatre Matters! UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre Award shortlist.
More than 55,000 members of the public cast their votes to decide which of the 225 competing venues should make the esteemed shortlist, with the results now narrowed down to seven competing venues. The St James theatre now faces competition from fellow London performance space Wilton’s Music Hall, the world’s oldest surviving Grand Music Hall that, just like St James theatre, presents a diverse range of entertainment from theatre to cabaret.
Joining the London pair in the shortlist are regional venues Stamford Arts Centre, Exeter’s Bike Shed theatre, The Mill at Sonning theatre, Newbury’s Watermill theatre and Keswick’s picturesque Theatre by the Lake.
The award, which is presented in association with Classic FM, is one of many initiatives to raise the profile of My Theatre Matters!, a campaign run by Equity, The Stage and UK Theatre Awards’ organisers, the Theatrical Management Association (TMA), that calls upon audiences to champion their local theatres and encourage their local politicians to do the same.
Speaking about the inaugural award, Julian Bird, Chief Executive of the TMA and the Society of London Theatre, said: “It has been great to see the tremendous level of public support for regional theatre since the launch of My Theatre Matters! back in March, and we are delighted to put its name to this exciting award, which in the spirit of the campaign has been open for the first time to all theatres nationwide that offer legal and fair terms to all performers and stage management. The great response we have received from the voting public shows just how important theatres are to our local communities.”
It is a view shared by The Stage’s Editor Brian Attwood, who commented on today’s shortlist announcement saying: “The My Theatre Matters! campaign is all about celebrating the wonderful achievements of theatres across the UK, so it makes perfect sense for the three campaign partners to run this award, which has given audiences across the UK a chance to show how much they value their local theatre.”
The seven shortlisted venues will now have to wait until the day of the UK Theatre Awards ceremony to discover who will take home the coveted award, which will be presented at London’s historic Guildhall at the glamorous event on 20 October.
While the TMA’s annual awards celebrate excellence from across the UK’s many outstanding theatres, this year’s categories feature many nods to work that was seen on the London stage, including My Perfect Mind (Young Vic), Glasgow Girls (Theatre Royal Stratford East), The Butterfly Lion, Mister Holgado (both Unicorn theatre), Rutherford & Son (St James theatre) Deca Dance and The Great Gatsby (both Sadler’s Wells).
Visit the TMA’s website for this year’s full list of nominees and details of the event.