The company which owns the building, India-based Gamm Investments, wants to demolish it and develop the site as a hotel and office block (as happened with a famous art-house cinema in nearby St. Martin’s Lane, which is now the St. Martin’s Hotel). The director of the Arts, Edward Snape, has instead suggested an extensive refurbishment of the theatre. He is strongly opposed to the hotel idea. In a statement, Snape said that the Arts is in urgent need of renovation, which is why — together with the competition from nearby theatres — it is not turning a profit. There are four floors above the Arts which, says Snape, the landlords have kept empty for two years despite his suggestions for turning them into catering and entertainment areas. “People keep asking us why we haven’t opened the restaurant,” says Snape, “and it’s time they knew what’s going on.”
The Arts is one of the few theatres located in the West End that is small enough to house fringe or small-scale shows and — because of its central location — give them a decent chance of commercial success. Currently playing, Immodesty Blazie and Walter’s Burlesque!, it has also in recent years given stage space to Toby Young’s How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Richard Dormer’s Hurricane, Peter Hall’s production of Beckett’s Happy Days and the RSC’s production of Tynan starring Corin Redgrave.