Plans for brand new theatre in Staffordshire take big step forward
An exciting project to deliver a brand-new theatre in Staffordshire has taken a major step forward.
The charity behind the Crown Wharf Theatre in Stone has signed the lease to take on the building from Joule’s Brewery – and work will soon be getting under way on the backstage areas.
The outer shell of the theatre has been built by Joule’s as a donation to the community – it’s part of their Crown Wharf development which features a flagship brewery tap that will be opening its doors later this year.
The Crown Wharf Theatre charity signed the lease to take on the theatre building on 1 April, which will see the charity paying just a pound each year in perpetuity. It is now down to the charity to transform a shell into a fully equipped and professional performance and events space, with an internal fit-out of the auditorium, back of house and workshop areas estimated to cost around £750,000.
The charity is taking a phased approach and looking to raise a proportion of the total figure initially to provide enough equipment and finishes to make the space usable. From there, the theatre can start to be used while fundraising continues to further develop the building over time.
Fundraising has been under way for 12 months through a sponsor-a-seat scheme and events like the recent YouTube live streaming of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Now the lease has been signed, fundraising efforts will be ramped up, with the charity looking to raise money through funding bids, corporate sponsors, private donations and general fundraising.
Work will be starting soon on the back-of-house areas, which will include dressing rooms and green room facilities alongside an on-site workshop, and the charity would like to hear from local contractors, tradespeople and suppliers who can offer expertise, labour and materials to help reduce the overall cost of the back-of-house work. Businesses will also have the opportunity to become Founding Partners and be recognised permanently inside the theatre on the ‘Founding Partners Wall’.
When fully completed, Crown Wharf Theatre will seat over 200 people in an octagonal auditorium, with all the seats moveable to create the flexibility for a huge range of events, filling a longstanding gap in Stone’s cultural and social landscape.
Craig Chesters, Crown Wharf Theatre trustee, said: “We are so grateful to Joule’s for their help in getting the project to this stage. Right from the start, they’ve shared our vision for what a new theatre can bring to Stone, and their support shows just how committed they are to our town.
“We’ve had some incredible help from volunteers, and it’s been brilliant to feel the community getting behind the project. Now we’ve signed the lease and are full steam ahead with bid writing and planning some exciting events for 2021, we’d love to hear from people and businesses who want to get involved to make Crown Wharf Theatre a reality.”
Phillipa Machin, Joule’s Brewery marketing manager, added: “More than ever, we were eager to be involved in the community whilst building our Stone Taphouse, the most important project in the Joule’s history which sees the brands return to our historic hometown. What better way to be involved in the community than through the sponsorship of a community theatre, as well as a heritage centre?
“As we get ever closer to finishing the taphouse and can see the theatre bar evolve, we’re excited to work alongside the charity to create a fantastic offer. I know I can’t wait to be sitting in the theatre amongst friends with a pint of Joule’s in hand watching a fantastic local production, enjoying a film or even an album launch. So of course we’re absolutely thrilled that the Crown Wharf Theatre charity have signed the lease and we’re looking forward to seeing the building come to life very soon as they begin works on site. Watch this space for an exciting array of events coming soon.”