Nothing Ventured: New Venture Theatre announces the rebirth of their main performance space, writes Andrew Kay
The much loved New Venture Theatre has played an important role in the creative and artistic life of Brighton and Hove since it started in the 1940s. It was in 1953 that they opened the Main Theatre in the large upper space. Sadly in 2005 it was closed because of fire regulations and since then NVT has performed all its shows in their studio theatre on the ground floor. The great news is that a performance licence has now been granted, and the old theatre is being reborn.
I met with Mike Stubbs and Gerry McCrudden to take a look at the space and hear their plans. “The main theatre space has until now had a proscenium arch but the plan is to make this a more flexible space, modern in design, but retaining the possibility of creating a proscenium arch when required for individual productions. From rebirth to reopening the theatre will cost around £20,000 to refurbish, and that’s just phase one. A small planning team has been set up to help raise the funds we need. And at our Christmas party on Saturday 18 December we will be using the occasion to launch the rebirth and show you the initial plans.
They are also planning a special gala event on Saturday 9 April 2011 to help encourage other potential benefactors to give individual or corporate sponsorship. “We will be looking for ‘Angels’ to help our dream take flight. Our ‘Angels’ will be able to put their names on a theatre seat in perpetuity for £100. For £500 you will be a ‘Fallen Angel’ and for a donation of £1,000 you will be an ‘Archangel’. If anyone wants to give the whole £20,000 then they can be the ‘Angel Gabriel’. But we really would welcome any kind of help in terms of both money and materials.”
The company, which is entirely run by volunteers, stages 10 productions annually. When the main theatre re-opens they will have choices of which space they use but will also have increased capacity for rehearsal space and the drama classes that they run. Whilst they currently have no plans to increase the number of productions each year they do need to soundproof the space between their two performance areas, which will be an expensive task. The main room though is full of character and potentially extremely versatile with two defined areas, one raked for seating and one raised platform, but their uses could easily be reversed. Soundproofing is only one of a long list of tasks ahead. The windows will need new blackouts. The theatre needs new seating and the major expense is likely to be sound and lighting technology. But the team has lots of plans for fundraising and would love to hear from anyone who can assist in any way.
Currently at NVT: Gaby Goes Global, until 13 November. Into The Dark, a night of live short fiction 19 November 01273 746118 www.newventure.org.uk