Pyramid Arts Centre 'could become Warrington's new theatre'

By Phil McCann
Cheshire Political Reporter, BBC News

  • Published
Pyramid Arts Centre in WarringtonImage source, Google
Image caption,
The Pyramid Arts Centre opened in 2003 and currently has two small performance spaces

Plans to open a theatre in Warrington have been resurrected, with a reconfiguration of the town's arts centre being considered.

In 2018, a council commission found a theatre would tackle the town's "lack of cultural identity".

Proposals to convert a former drill hall into a 400-seat venue were scrapped by Warrington Council in July.

However, a confidential council report seen by the BBC suggested the Pyramid Arts Centre could be used instead.

Their findings, put together after the town's failed City of Culture bid in 2017, concluded that residents wanted to replace Crosfields Centenary Theatre, which shut in 1991.

It led to the proposals to convert the Bath Street drill hall into a performance venue, but the confidential report, written in June, said that project was "overly ambitious", "unrealistic" and could have cost up to £25m.

Image source, John M/Geograph
Image caption,
Plans to convert Bath Street drill hall into a theatre were put together in 2018 but scrapped in July

It added that officials had instead begun turned their attention towards installing a 400-seat auditorium into the nearby Pyramid Arts Centre, which currently features two small performance areas with no backstage space.

The venue had initially been dismissed as a potential location, because of "performance issues" with Culture Warrington, the charitable trust which runs the council-owned building.

The report said the service the trust provided had been "poor" and "comparably expensive", meaning arts organisations had been "very reluctant" to use the Pyramid.

"However, it may now be timely to reconsider Pyramid as an option", the report said, adding there was "a willingness in Culture Warrington" to "deliver a wider theatre offer".

Culture Warrington said it was "committed to driving a cultural change in Warrington", adding that its venues were "the jewel in the crown of Warrington's cultural offer".

A Warrington Borough Council spokesman said the authority had "strong ambitions for culture and performing arts in Warrington" but added that it was "too early to comment on any further long-term plans at this stage".

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