11 July 2022

This support is in addition to the scholarship programme generously funded by the company to support underrepresented groups on the Real Estate BSc Honours course at Westminster, worth over £30,000 across the next two years. This further donation from Shaftesbury highlights the ever-strengthening relationship between the University and the FTSE-250 listed investment trust.

From 1972 to 1990, the Soho Poly was London’s most important alternative theatre venue. Located in the basement of the University of Westminster’s Riding House Street building, 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 and members of the BAME and LGBTQ+ communities. After being rediscovered approximately 10 years ago by Westminster academic, Dr Matthew Morrison, it has been utilised for small yet impactful dramatic arts and music education, alongside academic co-project lead, Professor Guy Osborn

Once open, the performing arts venue will be able to increase community involvement and outreach programmes, delivering the disruptive and thought-provoking artistic activities that once made it a leader in its field. The next phase of the fundraising campaign will seek to develop an exhibition space above the performance site, permitting students and local community individuals the chance to showcase their visual artistry. 

Jordan Scammell, Head of Development and Fundraising, commented: “I’m delighted that Shaftesbury have decided to support our ambitions to bring the Soho Poly back to life through such generous funding. With our shared ambitions to ensure the West End remains an attractive and accessible part of London for all, I’m confident of a long-term partnership which benefits the local communities in which both Shaftesbury and the University operates.”

Andrew Price, Property Director at Shaftesbury and Chair of the company’s Community Investment Committee, added: “We are pleased to be able to continue our work with the University of Westminster through this project. The revival of Soho Poly will play an important role in creating more accessible opportunities, increasing wider community involvement and outreach programmes. We look forward to seeing it reclaim its pioneering role in the theatre community.”

To find out more, or how you can support the Soho Poly, contact the University’s Development Team or visit the Restoring the Soho Poly webpage.