Promoting well-being through Arts for Life
The Trust's vision is based on the proven and accepted notion that any involvement in the arts is "good for you", be that as a performer or creator, or supportimg or managing arts activity. Claudette Bryanston, the Theatre's Artisitc Director, says the evidence is everywhere:
"We see the joy of performance in the eyes of the thousands of young people, and not so young, that get the chance to appear on the Albany stage every year. For many of our volunteers, the chance to work in an exciting and creative environment can transform their lives, and then of course the sorts of events we present can have a profound impact. The recent production of "Liviing with Luke", a play about dealing with autism, left most of the audience in tears. Our current production of "A Christmas Carol" is uplifting and is as relevant in the post-Brexit world as it was when Charles Dickens wrote the story over 170 years ago. Our mission is to Cultivate, Inspire and Create, and that is what Arts for Life aims to achieve."
Now, the Albany Theatre Trust has won critically important support for its exciting vision from Coventry City Council.
Ever since the theatre reopened in February 2013 its long-term future has been in doubt. Although the theatre was saved when City College (formerly Coventry Technical College) moved to its new site in Hillfields the threat that the back of the theatre would be demolished has always been there.
In a letter to volunteers and staff, David Meredith, Chairman of the Trust and currently Chief Executive, explained:
"The only way to save the theatre, and therefore to be in a position to deliver our 'Arts for Life vision.was to secure additional space on the ground floor of the former college building to provide essential facilities and expand the range of activities we can offer. To secure that space we had to get the support of Coventry City Council to underwrite the lease. To get their support we had to prove we could run things in a financially prudent way and that our governance is strong.'
The Trust presented proposals to the council earlier this year. After rigorous scrutiny council officers have recommended support for the plans, which Councillors will be asked to approve at a meeting of Cabinet on 3 January 2017
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."
The Albany now operates as a professional theatre, currently employing eight full and part-time staff and four apprentices but also depending on a growing team of volunteers for day to day management. 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.
The next step is to negotiate long-term leases not only for the new space but also for the theatre itself. Plans for the new space are already underway, but the Trust is looking to consult as widely as possible to ensure the best use is made of this unique, exciting opportunity.