A derelict theatre in Gloucester was set to be restored before the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March.
Gloucester Arts Council has put a fresh offer in for a 99-year lease of the New Olympus Theatre in Barton Street for an undisclosed fee after the initial offer fell through.
The arts council also has plans to build an arts centre next door to the theatre, which is positioned between Vauxhall Road and Blenheim Road.
The historic listed building has been part of the Barton landscape since 1923, during the Jazz Age and the era of silent movies. Originally named Picturedrome, it opened as a cinema with 600 seats.
Philip McCormick, founding chairman of Gloucester Arts Council, said: “The offer is made with the view that we will then sell shares of the building to the people of Gloucester. For it to become truly owned by the population, for the population and secured for the long-term future and it will never get sold again because it will be owned by so many people.”
The arts council chairman, who is also company director of Nick Nicks & Co Timber, says he fears the building may become past the point of repair if the offer isn’t accepted in the near future.
“The building is in a state now of disrepair,” said Mr McCormick. “It’s so close to not being retrievable. There’s a real danger now that the last remaining purpose built theatre in Gloucester could literally be lost now.”
The last time the Olympus was used was in 2014 when it hosted a live theatre festival, with performances from the Royal Ballet School and the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham.
You can read up on the beleaguered history of the New Olympus Theatre here.
Gloucester Arts Council has famous patrons, Hollywood actors Simon Pegg (who grew up in Brockworth) and Jeremy Irons. Mr McCormick says they would help them raise the money to restore the theatre if the offer is accepted.
Last year, 450 seats were donated by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane, saving the arts council thousands of pounds.
Before the initial offer fell through in March, the arts council had plans to bring in Quattro Design Architects to update the art-deco décor within the Olympus.
He said: “We were looking to develop the building properly in to a theatre and building an arts centre next door to it.
“Quattro Design Architects in the [Gloucester] Docks, the architects that designed Shire Hall and the bus station, had come on board with us and supported us with plans to build the arts centre and for the building to be modernised.”
Gloucestershire Live tried to contact the current owners of the building, but they did not respond to our emails.