The Above The Stag theatre venue in Vauxhall, South London, has issued a wider statement about its closure, following the shock Sunday 7 August 2022 announcement that it had closed with immediate effect.
The trustees of the registered charity that run Above the Stag have said that the venue has to close in order for Network Rail to conduct a full safety inspection of the venue. Above the Stag is housed in railway arches in Vauxhall.
The trustees also cited a lack of a feasible business plan for the next 5 years as another reason to close, despite stating that they had secured £2m in donations from benefactors.
The statement issued at 12 noon today from Andy Hill, Operations Director & Producer at the venue to Above the Stag’s stakeholders, said: “Since announcing the heart-breaking closure of our Vauxhall venue two days ago, Above The Stag has been overwhelmed by thousands of kind and positive messages of support. Thank you! The past 5 years, in our beautiful Vauxhall home, have been extremely happy and successful but financially very challenging.
“As a Charity and the UK’s only exclusively LGBT+ Theatre, we are delighted to have staged award winning productions, sponsored new talent of every kind, provided a rare cross-generational queer space for our LGBT+ community and given you all great nights out. It has certainly been a privilege for us. We are very proud of all the wonderful staff, creatives, technicians, actors, artists and especially our loyal audiences who have graced us with their presence. A big thank you to everyone who has walked through our doors and been part of the creation of some very special magic.
“Regretfully, it has not been possible to come up with a feasible business plan for the next 5 years in our existing venue. Our landlord, The Arch Company, has been very understanding and supportive.
“Another contributing factor in the decision to close is that Network Rail, as a priority, have to carry out a full back to brick safety inspection and repairs to the arches within the next 6 months. The arches have to be closed, emptied, stripped back, and then all reinstated after the repairs are completed.
“The show is not over yet… Above The Stag is still very much alive and kicking. All furniture, fixtures, fittings and equipment are being transferred into storage in readiness for a reopening elsewhere at a later date. Our Benefactors have committed to donating £2m over the next 5 years subject to us finding a fit for purpose new venue and coming up with a feasible 5 year business plan. The search for our new home begins now!
“We look forward to hearing from you and to keeping in touch with you.”
It is still unclear, given the explanation for shuttering, why the venue was closed so suddenly, and why productions were still allowed to premiere a few days before the closure announcement: Straight & Narrow by Jimmie Chinn, starring Lewis Allcock, Todd Von Joel, Harriett Hare and Kerry Enright and directed by Mark Curry, had its press night on 4 August, only a few days ahead of Sunday’s announcement.
Lead actor Todd Von Joel, who only found out about the closure on Sunday morning, said: “There was absolutely no sign of this at all. It is a complete shock… some of the crew and set builders and set designers, they’ve been going til 3 in the morning each night, so it’s really disappointing for everyone involved.”
The Above the Stag theatre was dedicated to hosting LGBTQ+ productions and performers, and also had a busy theatre bar.