HEAVY rain and high winds have hampered work on the £1.8 million refurbishment of Stratford Civic Hall – forcing the closure of the auditorium until the end of March.
Efforts are underway to re-locate as many of the events as possible which were due to place in the coming weeks.
An indication of the problem came last Tuesday when the scheduled concert by the Orchestra of the Swan had to be re-located at short notice to the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre because the civic hall’s roof was leaking.
As part of the refurbishment – which will see the Rother Street venue re-open as Stratford Artshouse in April – a brand new auditorium roof is being installed.
But the installation process means a proportion of the roof may be exposed to the elements – and unable to cope with the extreme rain.
The storm-force winds have also made it difficult to secure the roof overnight.
This closure will affect 19 community shows and four commercial events that were due to take place.
General Manager Martyn Balson said safety had to come first. He said:
“This decision has been taken following a health and safety risk assessment. Of course it is hugely disappointing for our customers but it is not a decision we have taken lightly - the safety of our staff and audience absolutely comes first.
“We are working very hard to re-locate as many shows as we can while work continues to complete the new roof. The extreme weather is complicating this but we still look to complete on April 1st. Our sincere apologies to everyone affected – we are doing all we can to minimise disruption.”
The civic hall is owned by Stratford Town Trust. Chief executive Helen Munro stressed there had been no safety issues prior to the refurbishment work.
She said: “This is a problem encountered during the refurbishment, compounded by the persistent wind and rain. Martyn and his team have been working tirelessly to re-locate as many events as possible – just as they did when the problem first came to light, moving the Orchestra of the Swan’s concert to the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre at very short notice.
“Building work is continuing – and we will re-open the auditorium as soon as it is safe to do so. Safety must take priority. We would like to thank everybody for their understanding.”
Tickets will remain valid for re-located shows. The civic hall will release more information as soon as it is available. The box office and Marketspace remain open while the auditorium is closed. Any ticket-holders will queries should call the box office on 01789 207100.
Updates will also be posted on Twitter @civichallworks
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