After closing in June last year, Bangkok’s 50-year-old Lido Theater underwent a major refurbishment and rebranding. The recently opened Lido Connect comes courtesy of record label Love Is Entertainment and Chulalongkorn University’s property division. We caught up with managing director Sirindra Mongkolmavin to find out what's changed. 

What challenges was the building facing before?

The biggest challenge for Chulalongkorn University was finding a partner that had the same vision—a place of learning and sharing; for art, culture, innovation and lifestyle. We all agreed: keep the original building, just renovate the content inside. This is going to be a place for youth, for artists and the public to come and connect; that’s why the name is Lido Connect.

What can people expect?

Previously, Lido was just a cinema with three screens. Now we just use one room as a theater. The other two rooms have been converted. For instance, in Lido 2, we took out all the seats—to hold events like fashion shows, or live music. In the third room we took out all the seats and all the steps. We call it the “black box” because it has no limits.  

Why maintain it?

The Lido is not just a building, it’s the story of every generation that’s been here. This is a very unique place, and we can’t let it go. Keep the architecture; just change the content, so we can tell the story of today’s generation, and then those that come after. It’s in the heart of Bangkok too, so it’s important to use this space to connect communities. We don’t need another commercial building; we need a space that tells Bangkok’s stories. Our motto is “let your story inspire our community.” Everyone can be an artist here.

How did you maintain the building’s original charm in the modern update?

That was the major challenge. We’re not selling space, but rather providing an art platform. So I think the charm will be maintained by our content providers.

How’s the initial feedback?

Theater lovers have been touched by how we’ve kept the ambience. They feel a sense of nostalgia and belonging. Live acts are excited, because they’ve never thought of the Lido as somewhere to perform before.

What’s your favorite element?

Anyone can come. We have an opportunity space outside, where people can perform in the street. We believe that anyone can be an artist—they just need space for their talents. Already, we have artists lining up every Friday and Saturday. I think it’s a great opportunity for kids, because they have a spot to come and improve their performance skills. To be an artist you have to entertain a crowd; you have to learn that. And last week we had street wrestling, so really anything goes.