Concerns Grow Over Future For Ealing's Only Theatre

Fundraiser has only brought a fraction of total needed but Questors remain confident

Scaffolding up for vital roof repairs at Questors


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With less than three weeks before a fundraiser is due to close, concern is growing that the money donated may be insufficient to save Ealing's only theatre.

A crowdfunding appeal was recently launched at the Questors Theatre. At least £100,000 is being sought to replace the once state-of-the-art flat roof at the Judi Dench Playhouse which has been leaking and causing damage.

To date just over £18,000 has been raised. Since the start of the pandemic finances have been a growing concern. Questors, like many theatres, suffered during lockdown with productions cancelled, a loss of ticket sales and subsequent decline in membership.

The theatre opened in 1929 and was rebuilt with new roof in 1964. That roof has now been leaking for several years which sparked fears that the main auditorium, the Judi Dench Playhouse, could deteriorate to such a point that it could become unusable.

Work has now begun on the complete replacement of the roof at a cost expected to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. However, the theatre also needs new seats, a new heating and ventilation system and the continual increase in energy bills is adding another major source of worry. Questors has previously applied for a £500,000 Arts Council grant but this was turned down.

Water leaks in the main playhouse

Buckets collecting water leaks

With the theatre’s cash reserves depleted, Trustees have been investigating loan options and figures as high as £1million have been mentioned. However, there have been concerns raised about taking on such a large bank loan in these uncertain economic times and it's hoped benefactors and sponsors will come forward.

Chair of Questors, Doug King, remains optimistic and said: “Replacing the leaking roof this year is essential for the future of the Playhouse. We are really grateful for those who have already helped the Crowdfunder appeal and urge others to please do the same. We are looking at a variety of other fundraising options including sponsorship and bequests and remain hopeful that we can reach our goal. This should meet the costs of the roof replacement – and also bring forward the planned follow-on steps for refurbishing the interior of the Playhouse, including the replacement of the seating and improvements to access.”

Questors is situated in a prime location opposite Walpole Park and the site is believed to be valued in the region of £5 million.

Scaffolding work underway on roof

Water damage caused to theatre seats

Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Malcolm, Leader of the Opposition, said, "I have visited Questors many times and am very concerned to hear about the financial pressures, both as a result of the pandemic, and now the need to replace the theatre’s roof and carry out other urgent work. It would be an absolute tragedy for Ealing if we lost our theatre, which has served the borough brilliantly for more than ninety years. I would urge everyone to do what they can to support their crowdfunding campaign. We can see how developers are snapping up prime sites in Ealing for high-rise flats. We need to secure the future of our theatre for the benefit of the whole community to preserve and enhance our culture in Ealing."

The appeal is being backed by the theatre’s president, Dame Judi Dench, who said,“I warmly support The Questors Crowdfunder to raise funds towards the cost of replacing the roof of the Playhouse that bears my name. I hope you will also agree that securing the future of the Playhouse is very important and donate what you can. In this way, we can ensure that The Questors continues to develop creative artists and provide theatre of an excellent standard to the community.”

To make your donation to the appeal click here.

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August 17, 2022

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