Alexandra Palace Commercial Director Lucy Fenner Talks Building Restoration Project

The restoration of the old Victorian Theatre at Alexandra Palace in London, England, and the refurbishment of the venue’s East Court are in the final construction phase. “It is amazing to start to see everything come together,” Lucy Fenner, Commercial Director at Alexandra Palace, told Pollstar. The so-called East Wing Restoration Project cost £27 million ($36 million), and both the theatre and the East Court will officially reopen in December.

Alexandra Palace
Lloyd Winters
– Alexandra Palace
The venue’s old Victorian Theatre, which originally opened in 1875, is currently being restored

Can you already reveal details about the opening ceremony?
Yes, we recently announced the opening program for December which will give audiences a taste of what’s to come. It’s a an eclectic mix of comedy, spoken word, Theatre and, of course, live music. When the Theatre opened in 1875 it hosted a variety of performances  and genres and so we wanted to reflect that in our opening season. We’ll be announcing the first performer and we’re incredibly excited but you’ll have to wait until later this year to find out who it is.
What role is live music going to play ?
Once completed, The East Wing Restoration Project will transform how people experience the Palace. Live music is one of the things Alexandra Palace is famous for, so concerts will make up a significant part of the Theatre’s program.

The East Court will also serve as a new entrance to the Palace and will be open throughout the day. There will be a Creative Learning Zone which will host workshops and events as well as smaller, intimate concerts. We’ll also have a new restaurant and bar. We’ll be announcing the East Court program later in the year and we can’t wait to welcome new visitors.
Are you filling a gap in London’s venue circuit?
The Theatre, and its flexible auditorium, will be able to seat just under 850 or hold around 1,300 standing and seated. London is a huge city which loves to go to concerts and attracts artists from all over the world so there is huge demand for mid-size venues. The Theatre is also spectacular and will look like nothing else in the city. Audiences and artists are going to fall in love with the space when they walk in.
Who is involved in financing this project?
The project wouldn’t have been possible without funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Haringey Council. The £18 million grant from the HLF was one of the biggest in their history and it has also enabled us to develop our Creative Learning program which reaches people across the borough.
Are there any other works being done to Alexandra Palace at the moment?
With 196 acres of parkland and seven acres of building, there is always work happening at Alexandra Palace. We’re also redeveloping our West Yard which will include new office space as well as improving the on-site storage.
How about the main hall. Are you still happy with that space, and does it serve the needs of all promoters and tours?
We’re hosting more and more concerts in the Great Hall which shows the demand is constantly increasing. The building may have been constructed in 1875 but we’re one of the city’s most flexible spaces. This year alone The Great Hall has hosted everything from a banquet to Dua Lipa with many more shows to be announced. The 10,250 standing capacity ensures we create an amazing atmosphere for artist and audience in the main arena. Plus our  festival village offering a variety of  street food and craft beers ensures all fans can really make a night of it at Ally Pally.

What’s next on your agenda? Any big projects upcoming? Apart from the East Wing restauration, what’s taking up your attention at the moment?
We’re gearing up for Kaleidoscope on Saturday 21st July. It’s Alexandra Palace’s first major arts and music festival and will taking over the Park and parts of the Palace that people never get to experience.

The main stage will host performances by bands like The Flaming Lips and Mystery Jets while in the basement there will be immersive theatre from Rift, With live music, comedy, theatre and amazing food, Kaleidoscope is an amalgamation of everything the Palace has become known for.

Alexandra Palace
Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
– Alexandra Palace
Rendering of what the future Theatre, in one of its configurations, is going to look like