Liverpool's Epstein Theatre to close due to 'unprecedented financial pressures'

Video report by ITV Granada Reports correspondent, Rob Smith

A 113-year-old theatre in Liverpool is set to close down at the end of the month due to "unprecedented financial pressures on the council’s budget".

Epstein Theatre, which is based on Hanover House, opened in 1913 and is named after in the city's most successful music entrepreneur and Beatles manager Brian Epstein.

However, theatre bosses have revealed in a statement that the curtain will fall for the final time on Friday, 30 June.

It said: "Due to unprecedented financial pressures on the council’s budget, the historic financial deal between the two parties is unsustainable hence the council’s decision not to renew or extend the current lease, or to offer any further financial support to the operators of the theatre."

It is the second North West theatre to close in 2023, with the Oldham Coliseum closing at the end of March.

Liverpool City Council said that this was “not an easy decision", adding that the authority is “a huge supporter of the city’s cultural sector and continues to annually invest millions of pounds supporting dozens of venues and organisations.”

The council own the freehold of Hanover House on Hanover Street and lease the entire building to a commercial property landlord and then sub-lease the Epstein Theatre back from them. 

Since the 1960s, the council has always financially supported and subsidised the theatre, with this figure said to be in excess of £100,000 per year.

The theatre said that requests for Liverpool City Council’s support of £50,000 per year, for the next five years to save the venue have been unsuccessful.

The Epstein is one of the region's oldest theatres - where some of the country's top stage and screen talent have performed over the years.

All productions up until Friday 30 June will go ahead as planned, with shows scheduled after that to be transferred to other Liverpool City Region venues.

Ticket holders for cancelled performances will receive an automatic refund.

It's one of the oldest theatres in the North West, but the curtain is set to fall for the final time. Credit: The Epstein Theatre

The 380-capacity theatre was previously known as Cranes Music Hall, Cranes Theatre and The Neptune Theatre before being renamed The Epstein Theatre.

Artistic and Operations Director Chantelle Nolan said: “I am truly heartbroken that Epstein Entertainments are having to vacate the beautiful Epstein Theatre in Liverpool city centre.

"Since opening the theatre to the public in December 2021 we have worked tirelessly to make the business a success, but unfortunately with the costs we are now facing, it’s become an impossible task.

“The work required to maintain the theatre to HSE standards and comply with legal requirements have become a severe drain on the company’s finances.

"Unfortunately, without Liverpool City Council’s support, it impossible to make it a financial success."

Artistic and Communications Director Bill Elms commented: “The costs to cover the rent, rates, service charges, utility bills, general maintenance, and essential constant upgrades required in the old historic building makes the proposed offer untenable."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...