The Neptune (now officially named The Epstein Theatre, after the Beatles’ manager) itself has been closed for six years following years of losses as a council-run venture. It’s been sitting dormant, and it’s only in the past couple of years that it’s undergone its £1million refurbishment, bringing it back to its Edwardian glory. It’s listed as a Grade II building, and from the sneak peeks we’ve seen, the restoration and refurbishment has been done to an impressive standard. Well, that’s what spending a million quid on something gets you, we suppose.
Liverpool City Council will subside rent and service charges for the theatre for several years, with a gradual reduction in financial assistance. After a period of five years it’s required to be totally self-funding. Initially it seems some organisations had expressed doubts over the viability of the Epstein without council assistance, with only one submission from an initial round of tendering, which was ultimately rejected. After a second round of tendering, it was Sound City who bagged the prize.
We’re excited to see what type of programming the theatre will be doing – its previous incarnation had a heavy emphasis on grassroots, community arts use with some fantastic touring productions, comedy and music. Sound City boss Dave Pichilingi promises “a space that will be a gemstone in the cultural offer for Liverpool”. He also praised Councillor Joe Anderson, who pushed for the Neptune’s relaunch, saying “this is public and commercial working together in great harmony with common vision and purpose”.
No word on when the official launch will be, but we’d imagine it’ll be in the spring, in time for 2012’s Liverpool Sound City event.
Welcome back, old friend.
The Epstein Theatre, Hanover Street, Liverpool
Excited? Have good memories of the original Neptune? Let us know your thoughts below…