The £27m theatre in Prescot is under construction and due for handover to operator Shakespeare North Trust by next spring, under a deal struck by Knowsley Council.
The council is today seeking approval from its cabinet to award the operator contract for the 30,000 sq ft Shakespeare North Playhouse to the trust, ahead of the venue opening in summer 2022.
Knowsley has engaged in a period of “intense scrutiny” in recent months to ensure that the trust has put in place a robust and sustainable business plan, and that it has the relevant skills and experience to operate the new theatre. The trust now also has in place an “operational ready” transition plan, which is standing waiting to be delivered, a report to the cabinet said.
The council has not disclosed the value of the operator contract but notes in its report that it has agreed capital funding of just over £12m for the playhouse, and in addition has committed £1.2m of revenue funding towards ensuring a sustainable 10-year business plan for the operator.
A service level or grant funding agreement will be put in place between the council and the operator to support the investment, the report said.
The 350-seat Jacobean court-style theatre in Prescot town centre is being built by main contractor Kier Construction, which started work last January. The project also includes a study centre, education and exhibition space and has been designed by London-based design practice Helm Architecture.
The development has been funded by Knowsley Council, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and the Treasury, which are contributing £12m, £10m and £5m respectively.
A further £8m is being provided by Liverpool City Region’s Strategic Investment Fund, which is financing improvements to Prescot’s transport interchange intended to support and provide better access to the theatre.