The new owner of the Granville Theatre in Ramsgate has been selected by Thanet council and named as Westwood One Ltd – which also operates Under 1 Roof Thanet in Pysons Road and Under 1 Roof Canterbury.
The company is headed up by Ramsgate sisters Zahra and Parisa Tarjomani and Pyramid Martial Arts & Just Kids Parties owner Matt Milchard.
The plans for the building are to bring it back into use as a theatre and cinema with café and community arts space.
A statement from Westwood One Ltd says: “We are absolutely delighted to announce that after a few months of proposals, meetings, site visits, late nights and anxious waiting, we have been granted permission to purchase The Granville Theatre, Ramsgate.
“Our plans for this historic and beautiful building are grand but our main purpose is to bring life back onto the stage, into the wings and turn the space into something our community can be proud of.
“Our history with The Granville started when we were young children, performing alongside our best friends, now partners, and families. It just feels wonderful to be a part of bringing it back to life. Walking through the derelict building was heart-breaking and we turned to each other and said “We have to do something”… and so we did!”
The trio are proposing to return the building to one auditorium – as was the case in the 1940s – with a 600+ seater capacity, full regeneration of the theatre space, a sea view café and bar, exhibition space, co-working space, workshop and education space.
The statement adds: “Local theatre groups, schools, artists, film makers, film buffs, theatre goers and creatives will all be able to enter into this historical building and build memories with their loved ones, just as we did. Our hope is that we can continue working with wonderful organisations to provide a wide array of cinema, theatre and artistic offerings.”
Zahra and Parisa also run Regency Performance Arts C.I.C and Regency Productions, which for over 15 years has been providing productions and performance opportunities to children and adults within the local area and beyond.
The sisters took over the Regency brand from their mother Sophia who sadly lost her battle with cancer, seven years ago. Since then they have continued running the company in her memory, carrying on with her legacy of providing the people of Thanet with live theatre by putting on shows at both the Winter Gardens and Theatre Royal in Margate.
Matt Milchard has over 20 years’ experience in the theatre and entertainment sector running touring pantomime and events companies providing thousands of events for both corporate and community projects.
Together they have undertook the huge development of the Under 1 Roof site on Pysons Road in Ramsgate and also the new Canterbury site, turning them around in just over two years.
The statement from the trio says: “Providing much needed jobs for the local creative community is of utmost importance, as well as offering training opportunities for people who wish to learn about the creative and technical side of theatre and film making.
“We aim to see the building repaired and brought back to its true grandeur by March 2023, which will be no easy feat, but we are determined not to let this beautiful space remain empty for any longer than necessary.
“From foreign film nights, immersive cinema evenings, theatre shows, comedy, waiter service screenings, live music, poetry readings, creative workshops, exhibitions, to technical training opportunities and apprentice schemes for young creatives… the space will be a place for all to enjoy and be something for Thanet to be proud of.
“We are giving local theatre groups, creatives and filmmakers the opportunity to reserve dates from April 2023 onwards and would encourage people to contact us to discuss any future projects.”
Zahra and Parisa added: “It seems serendipitous that the day we gave up the keys to our mum’s old unit and rehearsal space, we got the call that we had been successful with our bid for the Granville Theatre.
“In the midst of what was an emotional goodbye for us, after years of memories in our previous space, there was a new, exciting and wonderful opportunity just around the corner to return to the place where we once shared the stage with her.”
Thanet council says it has initiated the legal process to progress the sale through to completion.
A TDC statement adds: “The prospective buyer is Westwood One Ltd, a local family-run organisation with experience of operating successful businesses in Thanet and was selected following a robust evaluation process. Their proposal will see the theatre refurbished to provide a high quality production, dance and cinema space.
“In March 2022 we invited interested parties to undertake a Community Asset Transfer. None of the bids received met the required criteria and in May 2022 a local commercial agent was appointed to market the building for open market sale.
“A panel, made up of six council officers, including one invited from Kent County Council, considered all nine bids received. Evaluation criteria included the financial offer, the social and economic benefits of each bid, demonstrable experience of land or property management, and the extent to which the bids supported council priorities for employment generation and community engagement.
“The evaluation panel scored the selected bid highest of those received, and considered it to offer the best all-round solution.
“This will build on the Granville Theatre’s heritage as a community hub for culture and the performing arts.”
Ward councillors ‘impressed by plans’
Ward councillor Helen Crittenden said: “Together with my fellow ward councillors Steve Albon and Corinna Huxley, I have followed this disposal carefully. The three Labour ward councillors have been anxious that the Granville should be brought back into community use and to safeguard its important role in the local performing arts scene. It was also important that the council followed a proper process in securing that future for the building and that all interested parties were treated fairly and seen to be so.
“We are impressed by the plans announced by Westwood One Limited and welcome the fact that they are a local enterprise with exciting ideas for the building’s future which appear to meet the objectives we have on behalf of residents in Eastcliff.
“The three of us are keen to meet the new owners in the near future to hear more about their plans and discuss how we can work with them to help ensure the project is a success for the benefit of Eastcliff, Ramsgate and Thanet residents.”
To contact Westwood One Ltd about being involved with the Granville email email@example.com