Polka Theatre today announces that its Stage Two application to the Arts Council for £2.5 million towards its much-needed theatre redevelopment has been successful. This marks the first capital development since it opened the doors to its ground-breaking children’s theatre venue in 1979. The work on the building is planned to begin in February 2019 with a temporary closure of the building while the work takes place.
This is a ringing endorsement of Future Polka, the theatre’s initiative for reimagining and developing Polka for future generations and as a vibrant hub for the local community. The main aim of the plans is to redevelop the UK’s only theatre venue still exclusively for children, from babies up to 12-year olds, and for Polka to continue to set the benchmark for what such a venue could or should be.
The Future Polka project will cost £6.5 million. Thanks to support from the Arts Council and major trusts and donors, over 60% of the total budget is now in place.Polla is on track to achieve 90% of its £4 million match funding target by December 2018.
Polka Theatre’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Peter Glanville said today ‘Since the theatre opened nearly 40 years ago, Polka has been at the forefront of providing wide-reaching and imaginative children’s theatre and a dedicated venue for young audiences. We’re thrilled to have secured further funding towards our capital redevelopment and we hope that some of Polka’s many past and current visitors will also pledge their support, so we can undertake much-needed improvements to our premises and continue to offer a unique theatre environment where children can play, discover and create and let their imaginations run wild.
Tarek Iskander, Director, Theatre, Arts Council England said of the announcement ‘Polka Theatre is an established leader in the provision of work for children up to twelve years old and proposed capital plans will see them become a National Centre for Early Years’ Theatre in response to an increasing demand for this genre of work. We also welcome their plans for new rehearsal and development studios. These will facilitate Polka’s professional development programme for theatre makers who want to make a career in this sector and address the need for more inclusive and diverse children’s theatre. This should provide, in time, far more opportunities for very young audiences and their families to engage with high quality creative work and participatory activities and for the newly trained theatre makers to take their skills to venues throughout Britain and abroad.’
This is a pivotal moment for Polka and children’s theatre as an art form in the UK. Future Polka represents an exciting, chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure the survival of a pioneering, world-class theatre for children and much-loved centre for its local community.