Kenilworth's Talisman Theatre awarded nearly £100,000 towards redevelopment project

The first phase of the project will focus on a new ‘community arts space’ with new reception area, bar area and ‘fringe stage’

Monday, 26th April 2021, 9:58 am
Updated Monday, 26th April 2021, 10:00 am
Artist impressions of the theatre. Image supplied

Kenilworth's Talisman Theatre has been awarded nearly £100,000 to help fund its redevelopment.

The funding was provided by Kenilworth Town Council from its Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which will help finance the first stage of its redevelopment.

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) monies received by the town council come from local developers via Warwick District Council.

How the Talisman Theatre looks now. Photo supplied

At a recent meeting, councillors voted unanimously in favour of the grant, after a number of council members spoke in support of the application.

At the full town council meeting on April 8, the council voted to award the Talisman Theatre Company the sum of £90,909 as a contribution towards the project.

The first phase of the project will focus on a new ‘community arts space’ with new reception area, bar area and ‘fringe stage’.

As well as delivering disabled access to these areas and the theatre auditorium, it will resolve long-standing issues with the structure of the front wall and allow later phases of development to proceed.

Artist impressions of the remodelled foyer and bar area. Image supplied

Nigel Elliott, chair of the Talisman Theatre, said: "This is an incredibly exciting time. We’re proud of the high standard of theatre we produce here however, our 50-year-old building is in need of refurbishment.

"So that we can continue to provide the wonderful plays, musicals and pantomimes the people of Kenilworth expect from us we need to make sure the theatre is fit for the next 50 years.

"We’re enormously grateful for the funding we’ve received from Kenilworth Town Council which, along with other grants and our own fund-raising will, we hope, enable us to start work on the first phase this year."

The Talisman Theatre started life back in 1942 in an old tannery in the town’s centre.

Artist impressions of the remodelled foyer and bar area. Image supplied

In 1962 permission was given for a new shopping centre (Talisman Square) so the theatre found a new home buying the site it currently occupies in Barrow Road.

Opening in 1969, the 158-seater theatre has served the community well.

In 2019 planning permission was granted to create a new artistic and community space by extending and improving the bar and foyer area along with an extension to the upper floor giving fully accessible and larger rehearsal and performance areas.

The whole redeveloped project will cost around £1.3m but for now, the Talisman team have been focussing on the first phase at a cost of £275,000.

As well as seeking grant income, the team have been holding fund-raising events for both members and the local community.

Supporters can also donate via the Theatre’s website writer of screenplays and novels, and patron of the Talisman, Andrew Davies wrote in support of the Theatre: "The Talisman's bid for funding to expand its performance space, will be vitally important for the Youth Group in particular.

"As we emerge from Covid restrictions it is so important that the creative life of Kenilworth gets going again - and young people in the town, as everywhere else, have had such a rough deal over the last year, they deserve some support and encouragement.

"The Talisman Theatre has been an important cultural force in Kenilworth certainly since the Sixties, when I first saw a production there - we should all support it."

Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright, also a patron said: “Investing in cultural life continues to play an important part in our recovery from the pandemic shutdown of the last twelve months.

"I am heartened therefore to see and happy to support the Talisman Theatre in their development of a new artistic community space which will enhance our cultural opportunities."