Hollywood filmstar and alumnus Pierce Brosnan has released a video appealing for public support for a final £2m push to make plans by London’s Ovalhouse performance space to move to a new site in Brixton a reality.
The James Bond star has launched the promotional film which gives an insight into his early life as a teenager who discovered the power of theatre.
The film, which acts as a rallying cry to enable the legendary South London theatre, Ovalhouse, to move to a new site in Brixton, shows patron Brosnan seated in the modest auditorium that acted as the springboard to both his career, and the careers of many other of today’s most influential names, in the worlds of theatre, film, television and music.
He returned to where, as a young man of 17 with very few qualifications in his back pocket, he first attended the Ovalhouse Theatre Club for an experience that was to shape his life.
Brosnan compellingly describes the vibrancy that he encountered, the energy and creativity he discovered and the inspiration it instilled.
He talks of the vital role the venue has played in his life as well as the lives of many other young people. The former 007 ends with an appeal for donations and support for the move that will secure the organisation’s future.
In 2015 Lambeth Council granted planning permission for the relocation project as part of a significant regeneration scheme in the area. The Arts Council later announced an initial grant of £130,600 as the first stage of an overall £3 million large capital grant proposal and fellow Ovalhouse patron and old boy, Goodness Gracious Me star Sanjeev Bhaskar launched The Ovalhouse Buy-A-Brick Campaign.
A series of other fundraising initiatives are also planned with Jenny Sealey MBE (artistic director of Graeae Theatre Company) and director Paulette Randall MBE joining Brosnan and Bhaskar as patrons.
The new building will be a modern theatre to take the Ovalhouse into the future, enabling the theatre to continue to as act as a springboard for creative young people and to develop quality arts provision in a vibrant and richly diverse community.
Building work for the new home, which is part of a new development on Somerleyton Road and Coldharbour Lane in Brixton, will begin in 2016 with completion in the Spring of 2018.
The new venue will offer two theatre spaces plus seven multi-use accessible studios – for rehearsal, participatory work and community activities – and will comprise a significant suite of cultural workspace, bringing jobs and opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises and supporting the already strong cultural sector in Brixton.
With £6.5 million already raised and an Arts Council England Award of £3 million, a further £2 million needs to be raised to see the project through to opening.
In addition to Pierce Brosnan and Sanjeev Bhaskar, other Ovalhouse alumini include Howard Brenton, David Hare, Tim Roth, Mike Figgis, Meera Syal, Graeae, Nitin Sawhney, Mojiosla Adebayo and Oladipo Agboluaje.
Deborah Bestwick MBE, Director of Ovalhouse said: “I love hearing Pierce talk about his roots in Ovalhouse.
“His compelling story – of a young lad feeling disorientated in London, finding a creative home and realising his talent – sounds like a fairy tale but actually it is the practical reality of the importance of a place like Ovalhouse, and a story that could develop for any one of the young people or new artists who come through our doors each year.
“I have to pinch myself to be sure that that really is Piece Brosnan sitting here in our theatre, and looking at the plans for the new building I have to pinch myself again and say this is not a fantasy – we can do this with their fantastic support and the generations of artists and young people behind us.”