Leeds historic theatres : Don't let our lights go out for the first time in 400 years

Leeds City Varieties

As the Christmas season approaches, Leeds Heritage Theatres is asking patrons to consider supporting their three heritage venues at what would have been their busiest period.

In a year that has seen the arts and culture sector suffer badly as a result of the pandemic, it will be the first time in their collective 400-year history, that the three buildings will remain closed for Christmas.

The company that manages Leeds Grand Theatre, City Varieties Music Hall and Hyde Park Picture House is hoping that money raised will help support their long-term survival.

First opened in 1914, the Grade II listed Picture House is one of the UK’s oldest cinemas. Credit: Leeds Heritage Theatres

Patrons can help by donating to their ‘Keep a seat warm this Christmas’ campaign, purchasing tickets to future shows or buying memberships, gift vouchers and merchandise,

Normally at Christmas, The Grand would be hosting a major West End production, whilst the City Varieties would be home to one of only two self-produced shows, and main revenue driver, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto.

And whilst Hyde Park Picture House is closed for planned restoration work (on hold since April 2020), the cinema would usually screen a variety of Christmas favourites, including the iconic It’s a Wonderful Life.

Last December the three venues welcomed more than 60,000 people through their doors to enjoy one of 120 performances, generating an income of £1.4 million from ticket sales and £198,00 from secondary sales.

CEO Chris Blythe said the company purse would have run out completely on November 2nd this year if it hadn't received several grants, including £1.5million from the government and Art Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund.

"The grant is a lifeline for which we will be forever grateful ..... however no matter how generous the money will still not see us out of the woods completely, hence our need to ask our audiences for support."

 Click here for more on how to support the theatres this Christmas.