Booming Harrogate Theatre in major expansion

Harrogate International Centre Auditorium (s)
Harrogate International Centre Auditorium (s)

By Graham Chalmers and Alex Johnston

Harrogate Theatre could become one of the largest arts companies in the north of England by expanding use to the International Centre (HIC) and opening up a new space on Oxford Street.

This autumn, HIC will become the fourth venue to feature theatre programming, joining the theatre’s main house, studio space and the Royal Hall.

Together, the spaces offer 3,560 seats, and the theatre hopes the expansion will attract the biggest acts to the district.

The new space on Oxford Street, Hive, will be used for outreach activities, including youth theatre, a poetry group for senior citizens and drama workshops for toddlers.

David Bown, CEO of Harrogate Theatre said: “Harrogate Theatre has now extended its provision at both ends of the artistic spectrum.

“Hive allows us to provide specialist accommodation for our youth theatre, education and outreach work and our artist development scheme, and programming the HIC enables my team to engage with some of the most exciting and well-known performers in the world.

“Bringing together the theatre, the Studio, the Royal Hall, HIC and Hive under one artistic programme is very thrilling indeed – it will enhance the cultural offer for residents throughout the north of England and make a visit to Harrogate an attractive prospect at any time of the year.”

Hive will be used by Harrogate Theatre’s roll call of associate companies, helping young, up-and-coming artists to create exciting new works.

It will be headed up by Hannah Draper, head of education.

She said: “Hive is testament to the fact that education and outreach is at the core of Harrogate Theatre’s artistic activity.

“At a time when education departments in theatres across the country are having their activity reduced by short-sighted funding cuts, Harrogate is sending a bold message that it wants the community to be at the heart of the organisation.”

The 2013-2014 season saw 114,197 tickets sold, 75 per cent of overall seating capacity filled and an economic impact for the local economy of £16,283,667.

Harrogate Theatre will launch its programme for September 2014 - March 2015 in July.

Acts include Jools Holland, Deacon Blue, Kate Rusby and Britain’s Got Talent winners Collabro.

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