No-one is better qualified on arts

Inside Sheffield lyceum Theatre
Inside Sheffield lyceum Theatre
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With reference to last week’s brief letter from Jonathan Clements BA(Hons)BArch ARB RIBA.

I totally share his praise for Paul Allen’s vision of bringing Sheffield’s existing arts and cultural buildings into the modern age.

I have known Paul many years and there is no one better qualified to know what this city needs as far as the arts are concerned.

His other rather sarcastic comment referred to his ‘amusement’ at the amateur dramatic societies insistence that any replacement theatre should be conventional. As president of the group it was I who made that statement, but the full statement read ‘We sell 260 seats a night at the Library Theatre. We need a conventional theatre, be it in the round or with a thrust stage, of those proportions’. This clearly does not mean traditional. I would love to see a modern imaginative building and the term ‘conventional’ was used to say that any old room with 50 chairs or a greenfield site would certainly not be the answer.

Taking off my ‘amateur’ hat I have been a professional actor for 35 years and have played every theatre space in my much loved city as a professional or amateur. Much of my training was at the Library Theatre which is very much Sheffield’s People’s Theatre, in the spirit of Mr Graves himself. I am also proud of the fact that I was a co-founder of the Keep Lyceum Live’ campaign in 1969 when no one else was interested and the council were about to buy it and demolish it – ironically for a car park or extension for the Central Library. We cannot claim credit for the Lyceum we see today but our seven-year campaign saved it from demolition and secured its listed building status – but wait – the Lyceum is very traditional so probably Mr Clements would not have approved.

Roger Bingham

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