Long-term supporters of ABF Seaborne, Broughton and Walford Foundation, have signed over their ownership of the Stables Theatre and the adjoining terrace house to the Griffin Theatre Company in a remarkable deal made possible by a multi-million-dollar gift from the Neilson Foundation.
The Neilson donation has allowed Griffin to purchase the Stables Theatre and the Nimrod Street terrace from S,B&W Foundation, securing their home and paving the way for a major $10 million redevelopment of the much loved theatre.
S,B&W Foundation confirmed that the proceeds of the current sale of the SBW Stables will strengthen their ability to continue assisting Griffin and to support the performing arts more widely for decades to come.
It is an extraordinary gift to the current custodians of Griffin. But it is also a gift to the generations of playwrights and theatre artists who are yet to be nurtured and supported by a company that is, in so many ways, 'the theatre of first chances'.
Visionary philanthropist Dr. Rodney Seaborn saved The Stables in 1986 when it was up for sale and risked demolition. The Stables was purchased for $200,000 by The Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation, who have generously offered Griffin use of the theatre rent-free since then. They also bought the adjoining offices, Griffin HQ, which they provided at a subsidised rent.
Dr Rodney Seaborn’s vision of a permanent home for Griffin has now been fully realised through this gift from the Neilson Foundation.
This announcement follows a recent successful application to the NSW Government by Griffin in conjunction with the S,B&W Foundation, resulting in a $5 million redevelopment grant. Griffin will now fundraise to secure a further $5 million to allow for the renovation. The theatre capacity will be increased by 44%, dressing rooms upgraded, a brand new rehearsal space created, improved health and safety compliance and much-needed wheelchair access added.
Seaborn, Broughton and Walford Foundation is a highly respected theatre charity. For almost 40 years the Foundation has been an extraordinarily generous benefactor to over 70 theatre companies and hundreds of performing artists.
The Foundation has been a major supporter of Actors Benevolent Fund, partnering ABF through the Covid-19 Emergency Fund as well as being the sponsor for ABF’s Victoria Longley Cancer Fund. It has also provided support to NIDA and performing arts and community festivals while maintaining a valuable Performing Arts Collection to preserve stories of Australia’s theatrical past.
Peter Lowry, President of the Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation, congratulated the Griffin Theatre Company for successfully adhering to its original mission to develop and stage new writing exclusively by Australian playwrights.
‘We are proud of the Foundation’s lengthy, major support of the Griffin Theatre Company’, Peter Lowry said. ‘It all began with Dr Seaborn’s generous response to the Company’s cry for help and his belief, which my Board and I share, in the importance of a secure platform for new voices and Australian stories. We are dedicated to honouring and enhancing Dr Seaborn’s legacy. After years of nurturing Griffin, helping it financially, caring for its ‘nest' at the SBW Stables and watching the Company develop and grow from strength to strength, the Foundation is delighted to see it stretch its creative wings and take flight. While we will continue our warm relationship, we are persuaded that now is the right time for Griffin to take charge of its own future.'