MD Creatives intends to use the 160-year-old The Citadel building on the corner of Waterloo Street and Milk Street as a base for its arts, music, culture and creative programmes in St Helens.
The organisation will work with the property’s owner, local businessman Ian Pitts, to refurbish the arts venue and create a bar, media suite, theatrical hair, make-up and costume zone for its 100-plus members to train and perform under one roof.
A public consultation on the refurbishment plans is expected to take place next year to give the local community an opportunity to comment on the proposals.
Pitts acquired The Citadel, which boasts comedian Johnny Vegas as its patron, in November. The Victorian venue first opened as an arts centre in 1861, known as the Theatre Royal. Known as The Citadel since 1988, the venue has hosted some of the country’s biggest bands, including The Stone Roses, Cast, The Verve and The La’s. It closed in June 2019.
The letting represents the third St Helens location for MD Creatives, which has its headquarters on Barrow Street and signed a 10-year lease to occupy 4,500 sq ft across the basement and ground floor of the former Tyrers building, owned by Nicholson Group, in September.
Miguel Doforo, creative director and founder of MD Creatives, said: “For years, I have walked past the Citadel and dreamt of working inside of it, so to sign a five-year lease here and have this dream finally turn into a reality is incredible.
“If you ask anyone in St Helens about the Citadel, they will tell you of their fond memories of this building and I can’t wait for my team to not only create their own memories here but also to perform, learn and excel in a venue that has been an integral part of this community for well over a century.
“We are aiming to bring The Citadel back to its former glory, and will be running a public consultation so the town can tell us want it wants to see at the venue. That is important.”
Pitts added: “I have fully bought into [Ian’s] dream of returning this building to its former glory as a hub of all things art, culture and most importantly, opportunity, for the many shining lights of St Helens and beyond.”
The Citadel will open December 21 with a virtual performance of ‘The Journey Through Christmas’ – a festive MD Creatives production, which will be screened to disadvantaged families across St Helens as part of the town’s annual Christmas campaign.
MD Creatives also plans to host several not-for-profit initiatives at The Citadel, including venue hire, performances and motivational speaking classes.