Derby Theatre plans to provide more opportunities for emerging artists and transform the venue

The sign at the entrance of Derby Theatre located within the Derbion shopping centre in the city centre.
The entrance of Derby Theatre within the Derbion shopping centre in the city centre. (Credit: 100526702)

A major redevelopment plan at Derby Theatre is set to introduce a brand-new studio, an improved learning space, and updated front of house areas to the beloved venue. 

The aim of the project is to transform the theatre into a more efficient, welcoming, and environmentally friendly space. 

It is intended to provide an improved experience for audiences, communities and participants, with the aim of attracting more people to the venue. 

Sarah Brigham, CEO and Artistic Director at Derby Theatre, said that a big part of the plan includes expanding their offer to schools and universities for co-working opportunities. 

She said: “Co-working between emerging artists and graduates will primarily be for those studying theatre arts, technical theatre and similar courses, but we are looking to expand the number of courses and the level of courses too, introducing apprenticeships, for example.”

She said that there will also be space available to student groups and that the theatre often works with other courses at the University of Derby, so they will also make full use of the space.

Derby Theatre's main stage and seating area lit up by stage lights.
The main stage at Derby Theatre. (Credit: Katrine Vavere)

Caroline Barth, the Creative Learning Director, elaborated on how the theatre will expand their offer to schools: “We will be able to provide a broader offer to students such as workshops connected to the technical aspects of shows.”

She added: “They will get practical opportunities such as learning the building blocks of lighting, sound and design. 

“Having knowledge about the mood and atmosphere of particular scenes and knowing the vocabulary to talk about the technical side of performances are all valuable skills they will gain”, said Caroline. 

Since the Coronavirus pandemic, there has been a lack of technical workers in the theatre industry and there is a high demand for more people to join the industry. 

Derby Theatre also plans to introduce new programmes linked to producing and arts management as there is high demand for Masters level studies in Applied Theatre and Education. 

The Creative Learning Director stated that this capital investment in the city will have an excellent return as the range of people they will work with will change lives. 

Sarah Brigham said that the current studio is situated with an inhospitable entrance outside of the main car park, and the renovation will provide an entrance at the main foyer which will help not only customer experience but also support the venue through offering more secondary spend options. 

She said: “The studio is currently only accessible on weekends whereas this will allow us to have longer runs with better facilities and better technical opportunities for shows. 

“With these exciting plans, we aim to provide an even better experience for our customers and attract a wider audience, and we believe the new facilities will encourage new people to attend”.