Funding has been secured for the redevelopment of the Albany Theatre in Coventry, UK. The Albany Theatre Trust (ATT) said the funding – gained through Coventry City Council – would guarantee the theatre’s future.
“This is the latest crucial step towards creating a long-term sustainable future for the Albany,” said David Meredith, chair of the ATT. “Far-sighted city councillors saved the former Butts Theatre over 15 years ago when City College moved out. The trust has acted as custodian of this much-loved community venue since 2012. In 2017, we signed a 50-year lease not only for the main house but also for additional undeveloped space in the old college building. It has taken four years to prove our business plan is solid and to give the council confidence that, with the new spaces we will now develop, we can operate successfully without being a burden for Coventry’s taxpayers. I pay tribute to Councillor John Mutton because without his support and commitment we might not have received the unanimous backing of councillors.”
The council grant will fund phase one of the project, bringing improvements to the existing Studio Theatre, three new studios, a new café and improved audience and community facilities.
“I’m really pleased that councillors have given their backing for this investment in the Albany Theatre,” said Councillor David Welsh, cabinet member for housing and communities. “We have already said that it is vital that we help to create sustainable models for the future, capable of delivering our ambitions as a cultural city. The Albany Theatre is an important cultural asset for the city, and I hope that in the months ahead it can expand its engagement with communities in the city.”
“Not only will the new developments ensure The Albany Theatre’s viability and thereby create a long-term legacy, but they will also allow us to offer a richer and more diverse programme, incubating emerging talent, and to develop the Albany as the home of learning and engagement programmes,” said Kevin Shaw, CEO and artistic director. “We are creating a high-class, fully accessible arts and cultural venue to meet identified local needs.”
“For many, the Albany Theatre provides life-changing opportunities, giving confidence and a strong sense of well-being to volunteers, audiences and participants of all ages and backgrounds,” said Professor Andy Hardy, vice chair of the ATT. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought home the need for human interaction and creativity. Before our enforced closure, 4-5,000 children and young people performed at the Albany every year; many thousands more enjoyed participatory events. Our focus now is to do what we can to support this young generation’s recovery from the scars of lockdown and improve the life chances of future generations.”
The Albany is an art deco theatre that stages in-house and professional touring dance, drama, music and comedy productions. From professional ballet companies to tribute acts, local community shows and off-Broadway hits, the current two theatre spaces play host to events both large and small.
The theatre is led by the ATT’s board of directors, with day-to-day operations undertaken by a core paid team of professionals, with help from an army of more than 100 volunteers.