Community bid for Taunton’s theatre

PRESS RELEASE 15th April 2013                                                                                                  



Community bid for Taunton’s theatre

Two months after The Brewhouse closed its doors, a unified community bid to manage Taunton’s theatre was submitted to the Administrator, BDO on Friday 12 April on behalf a number of local organisations currently known as ‘The Association’.  It is hoped to re-open the arts venue as Taunton’s  centre of creativity and a draw for the South West.  The bid demonstrates the strength of enthusiasm and determination within the community to ensure that out of the tragedy of The Brewhouse’s demise, another exciting era for the theatre and the arts in Somerset will be created.

The application highlights The Association’s aspirations to provide a high quality performing and visual arts programme bringing professional touring companies and artists to work in the county alongside local productions and participatory activities. The aim is to listen to audiences and provide a range of arts and creative activities including the best in drama, dance, music, comedy and film in the theatre.  Exhibitions will also provide a stimulating and social environment.  Children’s and family activities and other learning and training opportunities for old and young alike are vital ingredients in the programme mix.

The bid has been made by a working group representing Count Me In, Tone Theatre Association, Taunton Association of Performing Arts, Taunton Civic Society, Somerset Creative Innovation Centre amongst many others.   It is intended to support Taunton Deane Borough Council’s application to purchase back the leasehold.  The working group was formed from the wider steering group that grew out of two public meetings held in March by the newly formed Tone Theatre Association and the Save the Brewhouse and Facebook campaigns.

Once there is a response from the Administrator, The Association will hold a meeting to introduce the steering group and encourage individuals to come forward with ideas bringing their enthusiasm, skills and expertise. The Association will then build a membership base, establish a constitution and elect a management committee.  Fundraising and a membership drive will start as soon as possible.   Although volunteers will be vital for operational capacity, a small highly professional, salaried team is envisaged to lead the artistic direction, manage the facilities efficiently and secure the resources to keep the show on the road and the lights on.

Councillors John Meikle, Eddie Gaines and Steve Ross, as well as Phillip Bower and others who have led the campaign, welcome the many offers of support they have already received from the public and the arts world.  If The Association’s bid is successful, they look forward to working with the newly formed organisation to reopen the doors as soon as possible.    A public competition will be held to re-name the venue if The Association is granted a licence.  Meanwhile, the working group can be contacted on

“There has been a passionate response to the closure and a growing determination to reopen the doors of the theatre. The arts and creativity are vital for us as individuals, as a community and for the local economy.  The theatre is the living heart of Taunton and a showcase for the arts and media in Somerset.  It could be a real resource for young people to develop their talent as well as a support for the wider creative community.  A vibrant theatre and arts centre will attract visitors and investment in the short and long term so it’s worth supporting this venture and to reinvent the theatre for the 21st century.”

Caroline Corfe, Taunton and District Civic Society.

“As a long-standing Fellow of the RSA, an organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s challenges, I support and endorse the partnership between community and professional interests which lies at the heart of plans to regenerate a thriving arts venue for Taunton.”

Val Hammond, FRSA, Taunton Group


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