Council in talks with university to build new theatre

Published: 28 September 2021

Audience at concert

Derby Theatre are looking at options for relocating.

Derby City Council and the University of Derby are exploring options to relocate Derby Theatre into a new purpose-built building on the site of the former Assembly Rooms.

Earlier this year the Council announced plans to re-model the Market Place and create a new cultural heart for Derby. It’s thought that relocating Derby Theatre to a new building next to the Market Place will help to realise this vision, and provide a significant opportunity to boost the city’s cultural offer.

Now, the Council’s Cabinet is being asked to fund an outline business case and options appraisal, which will allow the ambitious scheme to progress to the next stage.

Speaking on the announcement Cllr Matthew Holmes, Deputy Leader of Derby City Council, said;

We are still at the exploratory stage of this potential project, but creating a new home for Derby Theatre into a brand new purpose-built facility is a fantastic opportunity.

It would have a truly transformational impact on Derby city centre and compliment the new entertainment and events arena being built at Becketwell.

The outline business case will be essential for the Council to be able to bid for external funding, such as the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, which will be critical to enable delivery of the project.

Cultural buildings have been key to this area of the city centre for many years and a new theatre would further boost the daytime and night-time economies.

However these are early stages and not everything is in our control, delivery of the scheme will be heavily dependent on securing external funding.

Alongside our other regenerations plans at Becketwell, the Market Hall and Eastern Gateway it really demonstrates that Derby is a place to invest.

Derby Theatre, part of the University of Derby, are examining options for relocating from their existing home as a way of building on current success and increasing the scale of their locally produced content whilst attracting a variety of more commercial touring works.

They also seek to build on artist development programmes, embed a research hub into the organisation; and enable them to expand and develop their youth, community and outreach programmes.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby and Chair of Derby Theatre’s board, said:

As the city’s only university we have a significant role to play in assuring its long-term cultural vibrancy and sustainability, and our involvement in this scheme reflects our commitment to this.

These ambitious proposals would not only provide our theatre students with an outstanding learning environment, but enable us to further develop our impactful research and community outreach work that helps to improve educational outcomes of young people, as well as engaging local residents in the arts.

Sarah Brigham, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Derby Theatre, said:

We love our current home but pre-pandemic our audiences and community engagement were on a steep increase and so we are rapidly growing out of the current footprint. These initial talks to place us in the heart of the city opposite QUAD and a stones throw away from the Museum of Making and Deda means we will be creating a Cultural Quarter which will we think will help the city to regenerate and make the market place a buzzing location once again for entertainment and leisure.

Council Cabinet will consider the proposal to fund the outline business case and options appraisal at their public meeting on Wednesday next week. If approved the Council and University and Derby Theatre will continue to explore the opportunity of building the new theatre.

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