New home for Alnwick library and TIC in refurbished Playhouse

Library and tourist information services have now opened in the new-look Alnwick Playhouse.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 10:54 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 10:10 am
Alnwick Playhouse before its refurbishment.

There was a ‘soft opening’ of the facilities within the new community hub earlier this month, ahead of the full venue’s reopening in the new year following a £3.3million renovation.

Coun Cath Homer, cabinet member for arts, leisure, culture and tourism at Northumberland County Council, said: “The building is set to become a real focal point and hub for the town, bringing the community together under one roof.

“By relocating some council services into the building we have been able to secure the future of the Playhouse which I am confident will continue to be well used by local residents and visitors for generations to come.”

Coun Gordon Castle, ward member for Alnwick, added: “Having been with this project since its beginning I can hardly express my gratitude sufficiently to those who have helped bring it to fruition as a partnership to bring the arts community and town visitors together under one roof.

“Thanks to major public investment and enthusiastic joint planning, the Playhouse retains its complete independence as an arts venue but the council provides a modern library and TIC alongside, so each benefits from the other.”

Coun Castle, speaking at Alnwick Town Council’s meeting, said: “I was agreeably surprised. I had feared it would be a tight space but it’s not bad at all. I thought the lighting and general ambience was good.”

However, Mayor Lynda Wearn added: “It’s a very nice area but it’s disappointing that it’s significantly smaller.”

There are also disability access issues still to resolve.

The Playhouse will reopen to the public on Friday, January 3 and a grand opening weekend of events has been planned to mark the occasion.

There will be broadcasts of the musical productions, 42nd Street and Cats, which are now almost sold out, public tours of the building and a celebratory evening on Saturday, January 4 with some traditional music from Alistair Anderson and band.

The Alnwick Forum will also be holding a special drop in session on Saturday, January 4 from 10am - 4pm and this will include a presentation in the auditorium together with the Playhouse between 10am - 11am. The presentation will provide an opportunity to hear in more detail about the aims and future challenges for the Playhouse, it is free but tickets must be pre-booked.

The library, relocated from Green Batt, will be running cartoon drawing workshops, story sessions and a meet and greet with Mog the cat for younger children.

Northumberland County Council has contributed £2.5million towards the cost of the work, with the Playhouse raising a further £800,000.

Playhouse manager Jo Potts said: “The closure of the Playhouse has allowed this well-loved arts centre to be restored and repaired to the highest of standards, bringing the whole building back to life.

“We trust the new and improved Playhouse will continue to entertain Alnwick and the wider community for many years to come.

“We have a full programme of events planned over the grand opening weekend and throughout spring, so please take a look on our website to see what is on offer and come along and join in the fun.”

While some events are free, others are ticketed. For full details, times and ticket prices go to www.alnwickplayhouse.co.uk