A brand new theatre in Stone will open its doors in 2023 after the charity behind it secured £495,000 in grant funding to finish the job and deliver a professional-standard theatre for the town.
With the support of Stafford Borough Council, the grant has been awarded to Crown Wharf Theatre by the Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
The grant will enable the installation of the heating ventilation and cooling system, which for some time has been the most significant outstanding challenge. Beyond that, it means the community cinema equipment can be in place from day one and the charity can kit the theatre out with excellent lighting, sound and audio-visual equipment.
All this will enable the theatre to achieve its mission of bringing professional standard facilities to Stone for all to enjoy, while also helping to attract professional touring shows and performers to the town.
As far back as 2018, Stone Town Council and Joule’s Brewery recognised the potential in delivering a theatre for the town and played key roles in getting the project up and running.
For several years since, through the amazing support of volunteers, local businesses, seat sponsors and Founding Partners, the town has come together to develop an empty shell into what, today, looks every bit like a theatre. It’s thanks to all the hard work, perseverance and wholehearted community support that the charity was able to demonstrate just how much Stone’s new theatre, cinema and community space deserved this significant funding grant to get the job done.
Harri Capernaros, Crown Wharf Theatre trustee, said: “Completing the building will be a huge milestone for the charity but is in fact only the beginning when it comes to bringing this space to life. It has been a people-powered project to date and its future success lies in a far great number of people getting involved, whether using the space, volunteering their time, or simply enjoying the wide variety of entertainment and activities on offer.
“As a volunteer-run and not-for-profit organisation, we believe the Crown Wharf Theatre has every chance of becoming a self-sustaining asset to Stone that can improve our wonderful town and the lives of people living here. But to make this happen, we will all have a part to play.”
Fellow Crown Wharf Theatre trustee Rob Kenney added: “It’s a huge cherry on top of the Crown Wharf Theatre Christmas cake that will enable the trustees to deliver an even higher quality theatre than anticipated.”
Steve Nuttall, managing director of Joule’s Brewery – which built the shell of the theatre as a gift to the town during the construction of their Crown Wharf pub development – said: “I recall the initial idea of Crown Wharf and what we could do with the opportunity to create something very special right at the heart of Stone town next to the canal. The theatre felt at the time like a long shot, but the vision of excellence and engagement with so many community groups, the creative flair and passion of local groups such as Stone Revellers, the dedication to community theatre and the sheer energy of the team bowled us over. We really caught the bug and joined their mission for what could be created.
“We believed so fully in the people and the idea that Joule’s constructed the purpose-built auditorium shell, the stores and back of house. The idea was so powerful and the team so investable that we just felt that they could make the rest of it all happen. Today they have done just that and garnered the support of the borough council alongside other amazing grant providers and a whole army of local supporters – individuals and businesses – who have done and given so much already.
“It’s the most heartening and rewarding project I have been involved with. I cannot say just how pleased I am for this group of dedicated and creative people and for Stone town as a whole. We are absolutely thrilled to be part of the town, and of this amazing project.”
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