On 13 March 2015, during a major renovation programme, a fire broke out in the roof, and engulfed the building, causing severe structural damage, including the collapse of the tower. The Grand Hall and Lower Hall were destroyed.
Although the Grand Hall and Lower Hall were destroyed, firefighters were able to save a large part of the building including several of the smaller theatre spaces. Two shows went ahead as planned one day after the fire,and BAC has maintained much of its artistic programme
The redevelopment of the Grand Hall is currently at the planning permission stage with the building set to re-open in 2018. The Lower Hall beneath will be the new Creative Hub (working title) offering affordable workspaces for startups, providing a bridge between subsidised arts and the creative industries. More imminent will be the opening of the artists bedrooms where artists will live and work at the BAC starting from Monday[25 April]. In the summer, the Courtyard will be launched as a new open-air theatre with Little Bulb Theatre.
A new thematic season Cash, Capitalism and Corporations in February and March 2017 will feature Red Shed, the third part of comedian and campaigner Mark Thomas’ autobiographical trilogy, at the heart of the season. Commentators, academics and activists will also be brought together from across the political spectrum as part of a varied programme of talks and debates. In August and September, the musical series Borderless celebrates world togetherness alongside the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.
BAC Artistic Director David Jupp commented: “Over the next few months the middle third of the building will be reopening, following an 18-month capital project, to reveal a new open-air theatre and activity space in the Courtyard, year-round artist accommodation across three floors of bedrooms, in-house production facilities and a 30-person lift that can also be used as a theatre space.
“The first artists to use our new bedrooms from next week will be from around the UK as part of A Nation’s Theatre Festival, which is currently taking place across 17 London venues celebrating work made by artists from Belfast to Exeter. The new parts of our building are the fruits of our 10-year partnership with visionary architects Haworth Tompkins who are also helping us rebuild the Grand Hall following the fire.”
The BAC Moving Museum is also announced as a result of a transition that saw Wandsworth museum and BAC unite as one organisation. The museum will literally move around, taking workshops, installation and performances on the history of the borough and the building to local communities.