From modest Victorian beginnings – as a steam engine repair shed – to legendary cultural venue, the Roundhouse has an enviable heritage few are able to match.
Since playwright Arnold Wesker established Centre 42 at the Roundhouse in 1964 -the first time the building was used as an arts venue – it has played host to many seminal performances.
On 1st June 2006, this Grade II* listed north London landmark reopened following extensive refurbishment. This pivotal date in the Roundhouse’s history was marked by an explosive new show, Fuerzabruta. It was the culmination of more than a decade’s hard work, led by philanthropist Sir Torquil Norman.
The transformation was nothing short of remarkable. Architects John McAslan + Partners retained and restored many of the original features while, at the same time, creating a modern facility capable of accommodating and developing a long term international artistic programme. The Main Space, with a stunning glass lantern centrepiece (allowing natural light in for the first time since the 1860s), can house 1,800 people seated or 3,300 standing, allowing large-scale productions. Recent highlights include the annual BBC Electric Proms season, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Histories and Lucha Libre London.
Our artistic plans include circus, music festivals, large scale theatre, multi-media festivals, installations, talks and screenings but it is the organisation’s focus on young people that makes it a leader. The Roundhouse places young people at its heart, involving them at every level, from membership of the Board of Directors to generating marketing campaigns.
Throughout the year the Roundhouse delivers creative projects for up to 6,000 13-25 year-olds from all backgrounds, covering radio, music production, drama, poetry, TV, sound engineering, photography, VJ skills and more. The professionally led projects cost just £2 and take place in the Roundhouse’s 24 state-of-the-art studios that lie directly beneath the Main Space.
It is the interaction between the artists on stage and the young people that makes the Roundhouse unique. Young people have interviewed Sir Paul McCartney for the Roundhouse’s online radio station during the BBC Electric Proms, taken musical advice from James Brown and worked with Apple to deliver a live stream of Underworld’s Roundhouse performances to 50,000 people across the world. In this safe environment young people can develop self-esteem and confidence or gain valuable experience to help launch a career.
For three months of every year the Roundhouse is available for hire for corporate and private events for anywhere between 200 and 2,000 guests. Yet even in this more conventional role we stick to our guiding principles; all income goes directly towards our work with young people. As a charity, we are also reliant upon corporate sponsorships and public and private funding to continue this work.
Make a donation now and join hundreds of people and organisations who already support the Roundhouse.
Since reopening, almost half a million people have attended an event at the Roundhouse. Its enviable musical heritage – the Roundhouse has previously played host to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and the Doors (their only UK gig) – has been revived, with performances from Kasabian, Jarvis Cocker, Paul McCartney, The Chemical Brothers, The Beastie Boys, The Who, Morrissey and James Brown.
The Roundhouse is a pioneer of contemporary culture and has continually pushed boundaries. Today the Roundhouse offers diversity in music, theatre, dance and circus, in addition to nurturing young creative talent.