Stephen Joseph Theatre’s £350,000 boost to community arts

SJT OutReach participants. Photo by James Drawneek
SJT OutReach participants. Photo James Drawneek

The Stephen Joseph Theatre is being transformed to create a thriving OutReach hub that puts the community at its heart

In January, the former Odeon building in Westborough, Scarborough is set to undergo major interior renovation to create three new spaces for a multi-purpose studio and on-site prop and wardrobe storage facilities as well as a new reception and entrance area.

The work has been made possible thanks to a £275,000 National Lottery Arts Council Capital Grant with the proviso that the theatre raises additional funds to complete the build.

The theatre is now within the final 10 per cent of its £350,000 target needed to get the project under way in its 60th anniversary year.

The OutReach department runs activities for the community including classes, youth theatre groups, productions for pre-school, school partnership schemes, holiday workshops, sessions for older people, dance and choirs, some of which are held at local venue, The Street, and in pubs due to limited space at the theatre.

The new centre, to be known as SJT OutReach, aims to bring more people closer to the arts and the theatre.

It will expand its community work to offer more children, adults and the elderly the opportunity to get involved in the arts, to develop new skills and meet others through an increased range of creative projects, courses and arts activities.

SJT artistic director Chris Monks said: “We’re delighted to be able to bring a new community resource to Scarborough in our 60th anniversary year.

“This project is about making the Stephen Joseph Theatre accessible to everyone, developing OutReach and getting more people involved with us and putting out the message that this is their theatre.

“All money raised will contribute to the fundraising drive which will make a huge difference to the way in which the company moves forward.

“This will make us more efficient, it will make the theatre more open to the community, it’s an exciting time for the SJT and we want the community to be a part of this adventure.”

Head of OutReach Denise Gilfoyle said: “The grant is a real recognition from the Arts Council that the work we’ve pursued and the direction OutReach has taken is vitally important.

“We’d really like to work with people who don’t currently come to the theatre and help others to try new activities to promote a good quality of life.”

Building work on the SJT OutReach centre will start in mid-January ready for a grand opening in May 2015.

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