There are too many empty buildings in Britain today. The Big Issue’s Fill ‘Em Up campaign has called for greater support for social enterprises with fresh idea on how to bring empties back into use.
One small theatre company in Hertfordshire has shown how to rescue and breathe new life into a derelict arts venue.
The OVO theatre company has saved the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans and transformed it into a community space providing training opportunities to aspiring talent.
“The place had been dark for 18 months which was a real shame,” remembers Adam Nichols, founder and artistic director of OVO. “We felt there was a need for a small-scale arts venue that does things for the community, and we felt we could do a really good job of running it.”
There is a lack of high-quality artistic opportunities out there for young people
Thanks to investment from the local authority and Big Issue Invest – The Big Issue group’s social investment arm – OVO now a extensive program of activities.
As well as has been putting on 100 live performances a year – from Shakespeare to opera to musical theatre – the place has also been opened up to drama, ballet and music classes for young people.