World Theatre Day: Spotlight on Theatre Buildings

Theatre Buildings
Theatre Buildings

Our theatres are part of our heritage, our memories and home to the creative industry which accounts for 1.9 million jobs and £84.1 billion a year!

This weekend marks World Theatre Day (Saturday 27th March) and this year will be an online celebration.

If like me, you’re an avid theatre fan and have also re-booked your tickets multiple times (4 times so far for ‘Six’!), you’ll be missing taking your seat, observing the stillness and waiting for the show to start!

Building insurance valuations for theatres

The Theatre Trust’s database contains almost 4,000 theatre buildings, yet sadly only half of these are standing today. This emphasises just how important it is to look after and preserve our theatre buildings and buildings insurance plays a huge part in this.

When you think of the theatre, you probably imagine a huge older style building with exquisite features inside, adorned ceilings and a vast space between the stalls and the gods. Theatres are extraordinary buildings that are very difficult to put a value on.

Often when discussing Reinstatement Cost Assessments, reference is made to rates per m2 (£/m2) and I thought it would be interesting to explain how they can vary in a building like a theatre.

While lots of buildings have an average internal floor to ceiling height of around 3m, a theatre stage and auditorium has a huge, cavernous space meaning the relationship between floor area to wall area is far from typical and thus – if talking in rates per m2 – could increase by e.g. 400% depending on the individual theatre.

The same applies to other buildings with voluminous interiors: sports halls, churches, lofty warehousing, tall barns, all need to be insured for higher values than shorter neighbours of the same square footage.

Why extraordinary buildings need to be seen to be valued

Expert assessment is needed of buildings such as theatres as the BCIS data only holds a sample size of 5 and, if you are an Opera fan, there is only 1 sample.

Breaking the building down to consider the different areas of seating, reception spaces and the complex web of rooms backstage, is all important to coming up with an overall calculation.

Our Victorian theatres also include a wealth of internal embellishment which would be expensive to replace, but adds hugely to the atmosphere and experience of theatre goers.

The city centre locations make any potential reconstruction challenging, with limited access and space to store materials and site offices.

While few new theatres are being built, and existing theatres are in need of investment, a window into potential costs and challenges is seen via refurbishment and renovation projects.

Work began on the Leeds Playhouse which is being funded by a £15.8m investment to revamp the theatre with a new accessible entrance, upgraded equipment and studio space.

At BCH, we consider all such details and prepare a tailored Reinstatement Cost Assessment as unique as the building itself.

If you are involved in the insurance arrangements of a complex building and would like to determine the precise rebuild value of a property, please contact us on 01455 293510 or email info@bch.uk.com.