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Last Updated: Friday, 11 April, 2003, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Mayor gives theatre a lifeline
The Mermaid Theatre
Supporters say the Mermaid could be "the jewel in the crown"
A campaign to save a respected City of London theatre from demolition has been given a last-minute reprieve.

The Mermaid was going to be demolished to make way for an office block, but the Mayor of London has used his planning powers to direct the Corporation of London to refuse plans for the development in Blackfriars, central London.

But he said the scheme could still go-ahead if a satisfactory and detailed 6m compensation package to help make up for the loss of the 600-seat theatre could be confirmed.

A six year campaign to save the theatre, headed by Save London's Theatres, has been supported by actors such as Jeremy Irons, Tom Courtenay and Julia McKenzie.

'Support new theatres'

"The permanent loss of the Mermaid Theatre without sufficient plans in place to support a new theatre project is not acceptable," Mr Livingstone said.

"While the Corporation has accepted the principle of a legal agreement to secure a compensatory payment of 6m for loss of the theatre, no such legal agreement is in existence and there are no clear plans on how the funds would be used to support new theatres.

"The 6m would not be enough to replace the theatre but would be a significant sum to support new theatre projects."

The theatre was built in 1959 using public money gathered by character actor Lord Bernard Miles and was the first to be built in the City since Shakespeare's day.

Its supporters said its open-stage and single-tier auditorium became a model for modern theatre.

If the development does eventually get the go-ahead it is hoped construction will begin in the next five years.




SEE ALSO:
'Save Mermaid' campaign washed up
18 Mar 03  |  England
Curtain falls on historic theatre
08 Jan 03  |  England
Smaller theatres under threat
15 Jan 03  |  England
Theatres: The agony and the ecstasy
08 Mar 01  |  Entertainment


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