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Thursday 1 November 2012

Curtains rise on bright future for Lyceum Theatre


One of Britain’s top theatrical companies has been selected to manage Crewe’s historic Lyceum Theatre.

Cheshire East Council has appointed HQ Theatres to run the landmark venue and some even bigger acts and pantomimes have been promised for 2013 and beyond when it takes over the reins in January.

In a deal which will save money for the taxpayer, thanks to a much-reduced Council subsidy, Cheshire East believes it has found the best company to further establish the Lyceum’s status and cultural heritage.

Councillor Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “This is a win-win situation for Crewe. We promised to get the best outcome for the Lyceum Theatre and, in a forward-thinking organisation like HQ Theatres, we have got the best.

“I know all of the local members are in support of this move. These are the first stepping stones on the road to a bright future for Crewe and proof that we are delivering in the town.

“There is more to come for Crewe and the Lyceum as a destination centre will provide a platform for further destination centres in the town as we look to turn it into an economic powerhouse by 2030.”

HQ will work in partnership with Cheshire East to deliver a wide variety of events and has also pledged financial support for Cheshire East Youth Theatre, summer placements for young people, arts apprenticeships and staff training at the landmark theatre.

A Theatre Director is also to be appointed to attract top professional artistes and shows and HQ plans to complement live entertainment with opportunities to eat and drink, drawing on its experience as a restaurant operator.

Derek Nicholls, Chief Executive of HQ Theatres, said: “HQ Theatres is delighted to have the opportunity to manage the Lyceum Theatre, which is an exquisite historic building with, we believe, an exciting future.

“We want the local community to feel as though there is something special happening here; and to breathe new life into this beautiful theatre and to ensure its position as a vibrant centre for the performing arts.

“We will provide top professional shows and artistes, with broad appeal to all tastes, as well as flexible ticket prices and proven marketing expertise. We will also ensure a real ‘local’ service – this will not be a theatre run indirectly from our head office in London.

“Amongst the developments we shall bring to Crewe will be a summer Musical Theatre Project, involving large numbers of young people.

“We believe in the importance of strong partnerships with local societies and shall continue to present the work of the Cheshire East Youth Theatre, which we look forward to supporting, with new opportunities such as quality student placements at the Lyceum Theatre.”

Cheshire East Council invited interested parties to express an interest in partnering the Council in the future management of the century-old building.

An impressive 58 expressions of interest were made from potential partners, which led to three formal bids for the contract.

Councillor Steve Wilkinson, Cabinet support member for communities and regulatory services, added: “Securing the theatre’s future was of great importance as it is a much-loved institution that is at the very heart of the local community. It has played host to so many memorable events over the years and we want that to continue for many years to come.

“We now look forward to working with HQ Theatres to improve the theatrical offer for visitors.”

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