Yard sticks: Hackney theatre that began as a pop-up secures funding for state-of-the-art renovation

The Yard Theatre. Photograph: Maurizio Martorana

The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick is celebrating a “monumental step forward” after securing £700k to put towards its ambitious expansion plan.

The popular venue has been awarded the cash by Arts Council England, and it takes the total raised for the project past £6m.

It means that what started as a three-month pop-up in a disused warehouse will become a permanent, modern theatre with double the current capacity.

Improved facilities will include cushioned seats for audience members, better wheelchair access, spacious dressing rooms, a workshop, and a permanent space for young artists.

The construction will embrace green innovation, with natural ventilation, recycled waste-based bricks, and solar power set to be incorporated to help minimise the environmental impact.

The theatre will double its capacity to 200 seats. Photograph: Helen Murray

The Yard’s founder and artistic director Jay Miller said: “For 13 years, the entire Yard team has poured its heart and soul into the vision of a permanent, state-of-the-art space.

“Today, thanks to the tireless efforts of everyone involved and the generous support of Arts Council England and other funders, that vision gets closer.

“This new space in Hackney Wick marks a monumental step forward for The Yard Theatre. It demonstrates our commitment to long-term artistic growth and allows us to create an even more dynamic space for artists and audiences.

“We are incredibly proud of the journey that led us here, but we’re also excited about what’s to come. Watch this space!”

The team is set to sign a long lease at the site in Queen’s Yard, easing any fears over its future in the short term.

That future will be overseen by new leadership, with The Yard also announcing the appointment of Simon Tate as chair of trustees.

Tate, founder and managing director of a private real estate company, will lead the theatre through its renovation.

He said: “I am honoured and excited to have been asked to chair the trustee board to support and guide The Yard at this pivotal moment.

“Together we will deliver a theatre fit to host all the wonderful work that The Yard does – creating productions that redefine what theatre can be, supporting the development of artists, and engaging with the communities of East London.”

Some of the shows first staged at The Yard have gone on to become TV series, transferred to the National Theatre, and gone on international tours.

Artists including Michaela Coel and Alexander Zeldin, and nightlife collectives including INFERNO and Pxssy Palace, have found a platform at the theatre.

For more information, visit theyardtheatre.co.uk.