In 1980, BAC was established as an independent theatre under the artistic directorship of Jude Kelly. The opening weekend was on the 13th and the 14th of December. Renovations of the interior were made, most notably turning the Council Chamber into a ‘black-box’ theatre and the Members’ Library into a gallery space. Five years later, in 1985, Diana Princess of Wales officially opened the former General Office of the building as ‘Studio 1’.

In 1988, the Clapham Junction Rail Disaster killed 35 people.