Theatre News

Success in Ipswich's New WolseyTheatre bid for national portfolio funding

The New Wolsey Theatre has announced that its application to Arts Council England for National Portfolio funding has been successful.

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The New Wolsey is to receive £2,559,084.00 over 2015-2018, with an uplift to support the annual PULSE Festival. This enables the theatre 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.

This mission includes the creation, development and production of a vital and dynamic programme of theatre and other live performances and projects for the people of Suffolk and areas around Ipswich, the county town. By providing opportunities for creative growth in both overall theatrical form and individual artist 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.

Chairman David Edwards believes this is a good result in the current climate and is 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. 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 also receives funding from Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council and, for the next financial year, aims 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," Holmes comments.

The last three years has seen work produced by the New Wolsey develop alongside partners nationally and regionally – these include the Graeae Theatre Company. The Pulse Festival has been programmed in collaboration with festival directors China Plate since 2013; it has become a concise and explorative platform for artists to springboard new work and present touring work that is currently on the festival circuit.

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 its 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 was 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 is called Young Theatre Makers; the theatre's Young Associates Company has just completed its tour of Frequently Asked Questions to venues within the region. The project will last for two years, and is in partnership with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Liverpool's Everyman and Playhouse.

This autumn sees the world première of a new musical Midsummer Songs by artistic director Peter Rowe and Ben Goddard; a commemoration of First World War centenary with additional activity surrounding Private Peaceful and A Farewell To Arms. There is 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 by Rowe, directed by associate director Rob Salmon.