A showpiece centre celebrating one of a historic town’s most famous sons has identified its headquarters.
The new Astley Centre for Circus & Performing Arts, to be run by a Community Interest
Company (CIC), will occupy a town centre building currently lying empty.
Using Government funding currently being approved, 23-25 Merrial Street in Newcastle will be renovated to accommodate the Astley Centre to create a museum, research centre and a training and teaching facility.
Stephen Sweeney, Deputy Leader of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and Cabinet member for Finance, Town Centres and Growth, said: “This is an exciting, distinctive development, which not only celebrates Philip Astley, the man regarded as the father of the modern circus, but has huge potential for the future.
“Moving to Merrial Street will get this project up and running, with the added bonus of
bringing a town centre building back to life.”
The Astley Centre will build on the success of previous celebrations in the town of Philip Astley – and draw on the expertise available the New Vic Theatre – to develop a dedicated centre for circus.
Features will include the history and heritage of the circus, along with workspaces, fully
equipped studios and an education area. A report to Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council’s Cabinet makes clear that the authority will not be subsidising the running costs of the centre, which will be operated by the Philip Astley CIC.
Stephen Sweeney added: “Newcastle has a unique opportunity to create something extraordinary here which in the long term could boost our town centre enormously.”
Philip Astley was born in Newcastle in 1700s, the son of a cabinet maker, and after a military career became known for his ‘trick’ horse riding. Having opened a riding school in London in 1769, Astley began performing equestrian shows for the public, which expanded into performances featuring clowns, tightrope walkers, jugglers and dancing dogs.
Andrew Van Buren, Director of the Philip Astley Project CIC, said: “It is paramount that new ways are developed for creating footfall in town centres and I have seen how this can be successfully achieved through my world travels as part of my showbusiness career, witnessing first-hand how key historic figures can positively impact areas.
“In Newcastle-under-Lyme’s case that figure is local born Philip Astley – the military hero, creator of modern circus and the original Ringmaster. Philip Astley not only offers a key historic figure, but also a link with the town’s heritage and global cultural legacy.
“The Astley Circus Centre is a necessary and long awaited addition to the town
infrastructure, providing a chance for visitors to learn about and experience the Astley
legacy through access to exhibitions, archives, and related physical skills.
“We are a step away from making dreams a reality. This wonderful and exciting news has the potential to be of a great addition not only to Newcastle-under-Lyme, but also the whole of Staffordshire.”
FOR PROMOTIONAL SERVICES PLEASE EMAIL: email@example.com