From 1972 to 1990, the Soho Poly was London’s leading Fringe theatre. Located within the University of Westminster, it was a radical pioneer of ‘lunchtime theatre,’ dedicated to widening democratic access to the arts. It also gave voice to underrepresented writers, particularly women. Timberlake Wertenbaker, Caryl Churchill, Hanif Kureishi, Simon Callow and Bob Hoskins were just some of the actors and playwrights who ‘cut their teeth’ here. Many BBC producers from nearby Broadcasting House also commissioned works first showcased at the Soho Poly.  

Leaving our premises in 1990, the Soho Poly morphed into today’s hugely successful Soho Theatre on Dean Street. Sadly, its former home, the much-loved basement, was left abandoned. In 2012 it was rediscovered by playwright and Head of Creative Writing at the University, Dr Matt Morrison. He, and co-Creative Producer Guy Osborn, have now built on the University’s reputation for public engagement through dynamic pop-up festivals, new plays, ‘Ghost Gigs,’ poetry readings and exhibitions, and the launching of the Soho Poly Arts Club in 2020.

Following the success and impact of events already hosted in the space, a project to fully restore and renovate the theatre to its former glory is now underway. The official fundraising campaign aims to secure over half a million pounds for the refurbishment of the theatre and the creation of a dynamic exhibition space on the floor directly above- ‘The Soho Poly Upstairs.’ The funding will allow for a complete modernisation of the building – including disabled access and ensuring it meets health and safety regulations. 

The restored Soho Poly will create a vibrant community hub for inclusivity and wellbeing within the Regent Street and wider London area. It will offer community engagement and diverse programming to our partners and local schools and provide a contemporary performance and education venue for the London arts community. It will play a key role in the recovery of the Arts.