Tobacco Factory Theatres To Re-Open Following £1.6 Million Redevelopment

Artistic Director Mike Tweddle has today confirmed that Bristol's Tobacco Factory Theatres has reached the campaign target for its £1.6million transformation. Construction began in January 2018 and, after a year of fundraising, is set to be completed in October.

A public fundraising campaign generated significant donations to ensure the transformation could go ahead as planned alongside investment from Arts Council England and a major donation from the Spielman Charitable Trust - after which the new Studio Theatre is named.

Mike Tweddle thanked all supporters and paid tribute to the generosity of the public:

"It's thrilling to be leading the artistic vision of Tobacco Factory Theatres as this bold new chapter takes shape, and with a state-of-the-Art Theatre with the capability to produce and present the very highest quality theatre. The community that surrounds us in Bristol has supported us so generously during this evolution; without them we wouldn't have been able to make this vision a reality. It's now our chance to welcome those audiences, artists and supporters into the completely reimagined Tobacco Factory Theatres and start making this a living breathing creative space. The new Spielman Theatre will usher in a rich variety of national and international touring work to Southville as well as acting as an engine room for new ideas and a creative and learning space for all ages."

The impact of the physical changes can already been seen across all aspects of Tobacco Factory Theatres:

  • The theatre programme has expanded and diversified - the Spielman Theatre will welcome 30,000 audience members each year for over 360 performances by 50 companies. The programme is daring and innovative and features national and international work. The inaugural season opens on Wed 24 October with NO SHOW, Ellie Dubois' all female contemporary circus show
  • Increased work with local young people - Five Young Theatre Maker groups now run each term creating an additional 50 places; the Young Producer Scheme has increased from 6 to 10 places and runs for the whole educational year, rather than 6 months, and is now all centred at Tobacco Factory Theatres for greater connectivity with the staff team. It total this work will reach 3,000 young people each year.
  • More opportunities for artist development - the fully equipped state-of-the-art studio spaces provide a space for artists to research and develop ideas via the established Prototype programme, and to realise new work through Platform, the local artist residency scheme.
  • More links with the community - a brand new Adult Company for 20 people from south Bristol will work with Mike Tweddle to develop their own piece in the Spielman Theatre. The revitalised spaces are also a resource for community groups to use with Tobacco Factory Theatres hosting more creative activity and workshops.

Executive Director Mary Caws said "The redevelopment signals a step-change in the organisation's ambition with the revitalised spaces having a real and lasting impact on our work. Tobacco Factory Theatres now has the physical foundations to fulfil our strategic ambitions: to build our reputation for artistic excellence by creating more work in Bristol; deliver more opportunities for creative exploration and skills development for artists and our South Bristol communities through our Get Involved and artist development programme. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to the project."

Mike Tweddle's Beautiful Thing will open on 11th October marking 25 years since the landmark play from Jonathan Harvey was first staged. Press night will be held on 16 October. The first Spielman Theatre season opens on 24 October with Ellie Dubois No Show, followed by Shôn Dale-Jones in The Duke.

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