Community café details

Cafe and bar operations manager John Greenacre and Playhouse manager Jo Potts in the new cafe at Alnwick Playhouse.
Cafe and bar operations manager John Greenacre and Playhouse manager Jo Potts in the new cafe at Alnwick Playhouse.

The curtain is coming up on a new community café at Alnwick Playhouse this weekend, as part of a dramatic transformation at the theatre and arts centre.

The new venture will be open to the public for the first time on Saturday, from 11.30am, offering a range of drinks and light bites.

Alnwick Mayor Bill Grisdale will officially unveil the facility on Friday afternoon, at a special invitation-only celebration for guests such as the venue’s volunteers and arts awards students and their parents.

Playhouse manager Jo Potts said: “The community café has been done because we wanted to offer our customers something extra. It gives people a reason for coming in to the Playhouse other than to buy a ticket. It is about making the Playhouse a community venue.

“Any venue worth its salt has a café and a bar area and I think it will help the vibe of the Playhouse in general, not to mention that it is another income stream.”

The community café has led to the creation of an extra member of staff at the Playhouse, with John Greenacre joining the team as café and bar operations manager.

It comes as part of a major overhaul at the arts centre.

The box office has been moved to the opposite end of the bottom floor and there has been a relocation of office space.

But perhaps the biggest transformation is the upstairs bar area, which has been redecorated and modernised, with plush new furniture and wooden flooring. There is also a collection of Playhouse memorabilia.

The venue received funding for the work, with money from the Joicey Trust and the Rothley Trust. It also received a Boost Award from Santander and the Community Foundation Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.

Alnwick Playhouse’s Front Row and Friends members have also contributed to the cause.

Geoff Keenan, who has retired from Outlook HEC, has project managed the work for free and Jo says that they wouldn’t have had the confidence to go ahead without his expertise. John Robson’s Painters and Decorators also helped.

The Playhouse will still run its community coffee mornings on Fridays for the RNLI. The venue is available for other groups to run similar events.