Portsmouth theatre bosses admit 'surprise' as building goes up for sale at £1m but reassure community they will be there for 'years to come'
THEATRE bosses have admitted they were ‘surprised’ to find out the building had suddenly been put up for sale – but have moved to reassure the community it is ‘business as usual’.
Groundlings Theatre Trust, leaseholders at the iconic building on Kent Street, said they will remain at the venue for ‘years to come’ even if the building is sold – with customer bookings and tickets safe.
As reported on Tuesday, the Georgian Portsea theatre was put up for sale for £1m and is listed by Bernards Southsea.
Online property portal Zoopla, in its description of the building, said: ‘A unique opportunity has now arisen for a new owner to enjoy ownership of the theatre, with the current tenants in situ for nine years, currently paying £36,000 pa.’
But Helen Gibbs, chair of the theatre trust, revealed they were caught off-guard by events this week. ‘The first we knew about the building being up for sale was when the landlord brought estate agents round,’ she said.
‘The trust has still not been officially notified. It was a surprise – as was the high price tag.
‘We expect to be tenants here for many years still to come, though. We are looking forward to our first full Christmas show and hope we will be part of people’s Christmas’ for many years to come.
‘Everyone who has bought tickets and who has made bookings with us should know nothing has changed and their bookings are safe. It is business as usual. We have lots of exciting things to look forward to.’
Despite a grant from Historic England to pay for restoration of the building’s front, Helen said she hoped the new owners would invest in improvements.
‘I hope whoever buys the building loves heritage and history and is prepared to spend money on repairs. There’s still £500,000 worth of work to be done,’ she said.
‘The building was rated very highly in a heritage statement and is an important building to Portsmouth. ’
Tobias Robinson, executive and creative director of the theatre trust, said: ‘We’re still going to be here for many years. We have the pantos to look forward to with Beauty and the Beast coming up.
‘There‘s been lots of changes and we look forward to having people back.’