The Bike Shed Theatre has closed its doors for the last time, following a goodbye event on the 31st of March. The Fore Street venue, which first opened in 2010, was forced to close due to a lack of income from its attached bar.
Credited by The Guardian with “keeping theatre alive in Exeter”, the Bike Shed first opened as a pop-up, when its founders transformed two cellars into a temporary bar and theatre. After receiving an overwhelming amount of support, the theatre decided to stay put. In its successful eight-year spell, the venue has won a Peter Brook Empty Space Award as well as an award for the UK Theatre’s Most Welcoming Theatre.
“the Bike Shed first opened as a pop-up”
However recently, the bar has struggled to make enough profits to comfortably support the theatre. In a statement published on the theatre’s website and Facebook page, owner David Lock admitted that increased competition was one of the main causes of the closure.
“Some of you will know the unusual structure of our organisation. It’s actually two businesses, one supporting the other. Our bar – owned by me and Fin – has given its profit to the theatre, which is a charity.”
“But for many reasons, largely the fantastic range of drinking establishments in the city, our bar is not turning over the vast profits it needs to keep the theatre at a high standard.”
It has also been confirmed that The Boat Shed will not be opening as planned this summer, a project which aimed to transform warehouses on Exeter’s quay into entertainment spaces. In an interview with Devon Live, David Lockwood announced the change in plans but remained optimistic for the future.
“we won’t be opening the Boat Shed this summer. That last one is on hold…”
“We won’t be regularly funded by Arts Council anymore. And we won’t be opening the Boat Shed this summer. That last one is on hold whilst we gather a new coalition to realise this project. Watch this space and keep up the encouraging messages.”bookmark me