Exeter Northcott Theatre takes over management of Barnfield Theatre

In a bold move for the future, today Exeter Northcott Theatre announces that from January 2022 it will take over management of the city’s Barnfield Theatre.

The move, which aims to secure the future of the 1890 building as a performance space, incorporates a three step plan: to ensure the sustainability of this important cultural venue; to enhance the range of creative activities available in the city centre and broaden the range of participants engaging in the theatre’s activities; and to work towards a major transformation of the Barnfield into a vibrant creative hub serving the communities of Exeter, Devon and further afield.

The takeover, which will see the Northcott operating across both its existing campus-situated theatre and from the 286 seat venue in the centre of Exeter, comes as a result of extensive work with partners and archchitects over an eighteen month period to explore ways in which the much-loved Barnfield can be safeguarded. 

It follows an increase in the Northcott’s activities at The Barnfield over the past year . These include Northcott Young Company moving all it’s events to the venue, the hosting of a number of talks, events and workshops for the artists development programme under the banner Northcott Futures, using the Barnfield as a development space for new work created by Northcott’s Kickstart Company of young performers, and using the venue as a base for work presented outdoors in the city centre. In addition, the Barnfield has been adopted as a rehearsal space for work presented at the Northcott and as a hub to facilitate new work by local companies and artists.   The venue has also been employed by the Northcott for a diverse range of community projects.

The Northcott assuming the management of the Barnfield will create an opportunity to further extend this activity, with the long term objectives being, to nurture local theatre talent, to act as a centre for community engagement and to maintain and extend a rich cultural mix of work available to residents of the city and beyond.

The immediate impact will be increased engagement with existing users and audiences, the improvement of the creative, participatory and consumer offer at the venue and the introduction of a range of new opportunities for young people, communities and local artists.  It will include a drive to raise funds to restore the venue to include better access, new spaces and environmental sustainablity.

The target is to double the number of users and participants over the next five years from the existing 33,000 per year and to create a programme of work that suits a smaller space, contrasting and complimenting the work presented on the mainstage of the Northcott itself.

Daniel Buckroyd, Artistic Director & Chief Executive of Exeter Northcott said: ‘The Barnfield Theatre is one of Exeter’s hidden gems, home to so much creativity for nearly fifty years, and with the potential to reach out to even bigger, more diverse audiences in future.We’ve been working with the Barnfield team to imagine what the next fifty years might look like. I’m thrilled that the Northcott can help secure a brighter, busier future for the Barnfield by taking on its management at this challenging time, and I’m looking forward to working with partners including Exeter City Council and Exeter College to realise its huge potential.’

Exeter Northcott Theatre continues to offer a packed programme of theatre, dance, comedy and entertainment at its campus site, with new productions made in Devon alongside West End hits. 

Buckroyd adds – ‘Different events are suited to different spaces - some require the scale of a large stage and others work best in more intimate surroundings. As we re-open after lockdown, we’re delighted to be returning with live events across two theatres, meaning that we can now offer a more diverse programme, and opportunities for artists and companies at all levels.’

‘Our audience and our local community are at the heart of everything we do, so we want the Barnfield to be a space where everyone feels welcome - to see a show, to take part in a creative activity or simply to join us for a coffee and a chat. We’re looking forward to meeting new friends, exploring new ways of doing things, and imagining the future of theatre in Exeter, together.’

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