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Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 13.57.55A South East Northumberland community theatre has ten thousand reasons to be thankful after receiving a grant to help renovate parts of its theatre building.
The Phoenix Theatre, Blyth has gratefully received £10,000 from The Sir James Knott Trust that will enable the theatre company to move forward with its exciting and extensive plans to make essential improvements to its versatile studio space.
The Phoenix Theatre, Blyth – currently celebrating its 50th anniversary year – has ambitious ideas for the studio space which was once a prominent part of the former Beaconsfield Street Methodist Church.
The venue annually attracts around 15,000 patrons who enjoy a mix of community, amateur and professional touring productions. The Theatre is appreciative of its army of volunteers that enables them to operate a full and varied programme including a new popular monthly ‘Sunday Cinema’.
The Theatre applied to The Sir James Knott Trust to help with plans to develop the studio into a multi-purpose space which can be used for daytime community use as well as a small scale performance area.  The aim is to provide a dedicated location for people to create and show new performance pieces from local writers, directors and performers. This will also enable the venue to host additional community led events such as exhibitions, fairs, meetings and activity led health and wellbeing classes.
The Phoenix Theatre, Blyth is also recognised for its dedicated scheme to nurture the talented actors and actresses through its Young Phoenix theatre company.  A scheme that has been in operation since the 1970s; and has seen thousands of performers – aged 8-18 years old – being given their first ever taste of the stage. This kind of opportunity can harness confidence building, self esteem and be a vital attribute in social and professional situations. The youth theatre company has staged such productions as ‘Cats’, ‘Jason and the amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’, ‘Grease’, ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘The King and I’, ‘Half a Sixpence’ and ‘Billy Liar’.
David Garrett, Executive Director of The Phoenix Theatre, Blyth said: “We are really looking forward to some exciting times at the Theatre during our fiftieth anniversary year.  The celebrations will be made even more significant as we can make welcome improvements to the building and layout of the venue.
“Changes that will help to strengthen the delivery of our education and creative programme; and put in place an infrastructure that will be invaluable for the development of the Theatre’s future. This couldn’t be possible without essential funding contributions by organisations such as The Sir James Knott Trust. We hope this will enable us to continue our work and being seen as an important player in the local community.”
The Sir James Knott Trust is an independent, grant making charitable trust based in Newcastle upon Tyne. The Trust supports community projects in Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and County Durham.
The aim of Sir James Knott Trust is to help improve the conditions of people living and working in the North East of England.
“The Trust has been a long standing supporter of the Phoenix Theatre and, especially in its 50th year, is delighted to assist with the exciting plans for its future and expansion of facilities for community activities which will provide artistic and creative opportunities for the people of the local area,” said Mrs Vivien Stapley, Trust Secretary at The Sir James Knott Trust.
The next major use for the studio space will be in June and July of this year, when it houses a 16-piece orchestra, whose enchanting live music will form the exciting soundtrack to The Phoenix Theatre’s summer showcase of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic “Sunset Boulevard” (29th June to 4th July) – tickets are available from the box office 01670 367 228 and online
The box office number is also the best way for people interested to finding out more information about the Young Phoenix theatre company and any other exciting projects currently being delivered by The Phoenix Theatre, Blyth.
The Phoenix Theatre, Blyth is also supported by Northumberland County Council.
The venue would also be interested in hearing from any other local companies or businesses who might wish to help towards the Theatre’s extensive building programme.