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Council support for the Albany Theatre

Published Wednesday, 07 December 2016

The Council is set to support a thriving city theatre’s expansion plans as work on the City of Culture bid ramps up.

The Albany Theatre, based on the site of the old City College at The Butts, wants to extend into a neighbouring building to create new facilities including dance studios, a rehearsal space and a bar.

And to make sure the work can go ahead and the theatre can take on a 25-year lease, the Council has been asked to act as guarantor for the lease.

Councillors will hear that the move will not just help the theatre company, but will give a boost to the city’s cultural life.

At present the theatre receives an annual Council grant, but the expansion would allow it to try and generate extra income and help it to work with more local groups and further develop live theatre and the performing arts offer in the city.

The ‘Albany’ started life as a lecture theatre in City College in the 1930s. It became the ‘College Theatre’ which was used by a wide range of community groups and when City College moved to a new home it closed its doors in 2009.

The theatre reopened in 2013 after a lot of work by volunteers, the Albany Theatre Trust and the support of the Council and has since gone from strength to strength.

It now attracts professional companies and artists, but works with the local community to support amateur theatre and musical groups, as well as working with city schools. Since reopening in 2013, over 100,000 people have enjoyed more than 330 events and between April 2015 and November 2016 alone, over 8,000 artists and performers have performed on the Albany Theatre stage.   

Councillor Linda Bigham, cabinet member for Community Development said: “The Albany Theatre is a wonderful success story and a much loved part of the city’s cultural life. We have worked with them since the beginning and we are delighted that they are continuing to grow and are ambitious to do even more in the city.

“Thanks to the Albany, thousands of people are able to enjoy a night at the theatre or continue their passion for music and drama and that is so important to our city. Thousands of local children have also had the opportunity to learn and perform thanks to this theatre.  

“Unfortunately, Government cutbacks mean we can no longer give the support we would like to, but by acting as guarantor, we can help the theatre to a more secure future and allow it to continue its valuable work in the local community.

“We are a city that believes strongly in the need for a diverse cultural life and we value our theatres, museums and all the organisations who do so much to make our city such a great place to live – that’s one of the reasons why we believe we would be a fitting choice as UK City of Culture 2021.”

The theatre is keen to generate its own income and be as independent as possible and councillors will hear that supporting the expansion into the ground floor of the East Wing of Earlsdon Park will give it the chance it needs.

Taking over the empty ground floor wing of the building would create an extra 10,000 square feet of space for the theatre and the proposals also include a new entrance and foyer for the theatre off Albany Road.

Councillors will be asked to approve the plans at a meeting of Cabinet on 3 January 2017

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