Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre, Leeds Playhouse and New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich have been unveiled as the shortlisted venues for this year’s UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre Award at the UK Theatre Awards, which returns on Sunday 23 October for the first time since 2019.
The venues have been judged by an industry panel on how welcoming they are in the areas of ‘place’, ‘people’ and ‘programme’ – everything from their building design, the array of refreshments on offer and how audiences are greeted upon arrival, to the work programmed, outreach projects and other interactions with theatregoers, staff, freelancers and the local community.
Having scoured the whole of the UK and selected the three finalists from a large number of online submissions, the panel will now visit the venues in person to determine the overall winner. Visits might involve meeting staff, having a tour of the building, taking part in a scheduled activity, speaking to audience members or visiting the onsite café or restaurant.
The winner of the UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre 2022 will be announced at the UK Theatre Awards on Sunday 23 October at London’s Guildhall. The last ceremony took place before the pandemic in 2019, with Storyhouse in Cheshire crowned that year’s Most Welcoming Theatre.
Jon Gilchrist and Stephanie Sirr, Co-Presidents of UK Theatre, said:
‘The UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre Award is a fantastic platform for celebrating the UK theatres which provide an inspiring, accessible and inclusive creative hub for everyone who crosses their threshold. This year’s finalists are three very different venues from different parts of the country, but what they have in common is a mission to take high quality work beyond their walls and out into their local communities, as well as making their physical spaces as outward-looking and easily navigable as possible. We know the panel are looking forward to visiting the finalists next month, and to crowning the overall winner in October.’
For 30 years, the UK Theatre Awards have been the only nationwide awards to celebrate the outstanding achievements of theatre across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Further details of this year’s UK Theatre Awards will be announced in due course.
About the UKs Most Welcoming Theatre finalists:
Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre recently celebrated its 80th year at the cultural heart of Dundee, as home to the Dundee Rep Ensemble – the only permanent full-time company of its kind in Scotland – and Scottish Dance Theatre, one of the few full-time dance companies in the UK. Together, these twin ensembles have created many award-winning national and international productions, establishing a reputation as one of the UK’s leaders in theatre and dance production. At the heart of the organisations’ vision is the belief that world-class artistic and creative experience should be open to all. An extensive engagement programme works with people of all ages within the building, across Scotland and internationally.
Leeds Playhouse opened in 1970 as a new repertory theatre for Yorkshire, originally housed in a temporary Portacabin. With a mission to seek out, support, develop and produce vital theatre at all scales – from a debut play by a local writer to a large-scale musical for international touring – it often takes work out into the local community and beyond. In recent years, the Playhouse has undergone an extensive £16m redevelopment to make it more accessible to everyone, reopening in 2019 with an entrance that embraces the city and a new space, the Bramall Rock Void Studio, enabling the Playhouse to create work across three scales, generate more income and reduce its environmental impact.
New Wolsey Theatre, based in Ipswich since opening in 1979, aims to create work that is welcoming, inclusive and open to all sections of the community, contributes to the cultural life of the surrounding area, and offers opportunities to young people and under-represented groups to develop their theatre and performance skills. Central to the organisation’s ethos is high quality collaborative work – both in-house and touring – with maximum diversity and accessibility. The New Wolsey Theatre is a founder member of Ramps on the Moon, a consortium championing D/deaf and disabled people in on and off-stage roles.