The New Wolsey Theatre have announced that it’s application to Arts Council England for National Portfolio funding has been successful and it is to receive £2,559,084 over the period 2015-2018, with an uplift to support the annual PULSE Festival.
This funding enables the New Wolsey to maintain its existing operation and contribute to the goals set out in the Arts Council’s strategic framework Great Art for Everyone. It also recognises the strategic role the New Wolsey plays within the national theatre network for developing artists and producing a diverse range of work.
The New Wolsey’s mission is to create, develop and produce a vital and dynamic programme of theatre and other live performances and projects for the people of Suffolk and the surrounding areas. Providing opportunities for creative growth in both theatrical form and individual artist’s development, it aims to combine its own productions, projects and collaborations with other partners to create and further exploit work of the highest quality, maximum diversity and greatest possible accessibility.
New Wolsey Chairman David Edwards believes this is a good result in the current climate and proof that the Arts Council holds the New Wolsey in high regard. Chief Executive Sarah Holmes is equally pleased. “It is a good outcome and means that we can continue our work with artists, audiences, community groups and young people enriching and enlivening all our lives. Our commitment to creative learning and to artist development is secure, as is the annual PULSE Festival. Like our colleagues at other organizations we will be looking to other income streams, to diversify our income and attract philanthropy. We have a track record of innovative thinking and strong financial management. I am confident about the future.” The New Wolsey Theatre also receives funding from Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council and for the next financial year they are aiming to protect the level of revenue investment in the New Wolsey. “This indicates that IBC and SCC recognise the social and economic benefits of the arts to their communities unlike many other Councils across the country who have cut their investment in the arts,” says Sarah.
The last three years has seen work produced by the New Wolsey develop alongside partners nationally and regionally:
The Pulse Festival has been programmed in collaboration with Festival Directors China Plate since 2013, which has seen the festival become a concise and explorative platform for artists to springboard new work and present touring work that is currently on the festival circuit.
In 2014, the New Wolsey joined forces with Graeae Theatre Company, Nottingham Playhouse, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse to present Brecht and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera. This production was made with the mission to be accessible to D/deaf and Disabled audiences and contained a cast and crew with a mixture of abilities and skills.
Regionally, the New Wolsey has been involved in improving collaborative strategies with local arts companies to create We Are Ipswich –an alliance between leading creative companies in Ipswich uniting to show the world what talent, creativity and top quality work is being made in Ipswich and Suffolk, creating jobs, and with an aim to attract revenue for the town.
The theatre has recently congratulated their first set of graduates of the BTEC Level 3 in Production Arts course, in partnership with Suffolk New College. The first intake of students started in September 2012, and gained real production experience by working with the New Wolsey and its partners as well as on the College’s in-house shows, providing valuable opportunities for learning and future employment.
In November 2013, the New Wolsey’s Creative Learning department were successful in gaining funding from Arts Council England for a strategic touring project that would create Theatre for Young People by Young People. This scheme has been named Young Theatre Makers, and has just completed its first tour by the theatre’s Young Associates of Frequently Asked Questions out to satellite venues within the region. The project will last 2 years, and is in partnership with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse.
So, what’s coming up this season at the New Wolsey Theatre?
This autumn sees the world premiere of a brand new musical Midsummer Songs by Artistic Director Peter Rowe and Ben Goddard; a commemoration to the centenary of the First World War with additional activity surrounding Private Peaceful and A Farewell To Arms; an extension of the Pulse Festival with artists returning with final versions of work-in-progresses under the name Pulse Presents, and the return of the ever popular rock ’n’ roll pantomime written by Peter Rowe and directed by Associate Director Rob Salmon which is already booking at over 40% of capacity!