Northumberland theatre and arts centre to be transformed in £17.7m redevelopment project

Plans to transform a Berwick theatre and arts centre in a £17.7m project have been confirmed.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 3:52 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th March 2021, 4:00 pm

The new Maltings venue will be an ‘iconic, multi-purpose cultural and entertainment complex’ when its doors open in 2025.

The project, confirmed after the signing of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, will deliver a major transformation and expansion of the current venue. 

The development, with a £15m contribution from Borderlands, is planned to start on site in February 2023.

An aerial view of The Maltings in Berwick.

The remaining funding is set to come from Northumberland County Council and partners.

The new facilities will include a larger auditorium with extra seating, a dedicated cinema space, restaurant and bar, studio theatre and a flexible-use education, event, screening and rehearsal space.

Euan Duthie, chair of trustees for The Maltings (Berwick) Trust, said: “We are all thrilled to be working with the county council on this flagship project in support of the culture-led regeneration of Berwick.

“The Maltings is already the cultural heart of Berwick, punching well above its weight in delivering a combined arts programme of genuine quality and appeal.

The Maltings in Berwick.

“The new Maltings project will take the town to a whole new level, allowing us to expand our artistic ambition and grow our audience in terms of artistic reputation, breadth of programme, and community engagement right across our region."

During the two year build, The Maltings will use available buildings to continue delivering its programme, including The Gymnasium Gallery and Berwick Barracks.

This will enable other arts organisations associated with The Maltings, such as the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival, to continue to engage and attract audiences and visitors in the town.

The Maltings, which opened in 1990, hosts more than 600 live events, workshops and digital cinema screenings per year, selling almost 60,000 tickets and serving as a key cultural hub for the area.

The main house at the Maltings Theatre, Berwick.

Council leader Glen Sanderson said: “This is exciting news, not just for the people of Berwick but also much further afield.

“It’s a key asset for Berwick, attracting visitors and spending to the town and giving people repeated reasons to visit.

"Despite the theatre’s strong reputation and significant impact on the town and its local economy, its potential to grow audiences and draw more visitors to Berwick is constrained by the current facilities.

“This Borderlands investment will dramatically improve and expand its facilities and offer, making Berwick a centre for culture and the arts and delivering a significant boost to the local economy.”

Cllr Catherine Seymour, Berwick North, added: “Our new Maltings theatre, in the same location, will house expanded productions and cultural programmes with increased capacity that will benefit the community and bring economic growth and regeneration.

"Now is the time to get on with new build and look forward to seeing the architects designs and plans to fit and complement the surrounding heritage buildings in the middle of the town. This will be a magnetic draw and attraction along with all that visitors experience and enjoy in Berwick.”

Alongside the Eastern Lane development, alternative and improved car parking facilities across the town centre are also actively being explored ahead of any work starting.

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