Emerging Project

The Bull Theatre

Idea: Increase public programme to support the growth of the visitor and evening economy

The Bull theatre is a historic and important cultural institution on the High Street; however, it has not always been easy to offer more public programmes due to the other activities going on in the building.

The theatre has variously hosted a theatre school and local drama and dance groups, including the Bull Theatre Players Drama Group and Elders Dance Company. There are a number of shows each year, including Pantos at Christmas and Easter. On occasion the Bull Theatre also hosts local bands and run the Christmas Fayre.

Creating a Local Offer
Through engagement the community called for the Bull Theatre to host a more public facing programme to help support the development of the town centres visitor and evening economy. Some ideas raised included:

  • Friday Night at the Bull Theatre – e.g. Open Mic Night, a Quiz Supper Evening, Bingo, Stand up comedy etc.
  • Children’s Theatre Sundays – Professional children’s theatre companies performing at the Bull.
  • Annual Film Festival – Could link to a new quarterly town centre event programme.
  • Quarterly Plays or Musical – Professional performances that are not primarily children’s shows.

Other ideas also included developing a membership model. One that allows the community to support the theatre to grow a locally focused programme.

Longer Term Opportunity
In the longer term, there is also potential for the Theatre to extend to the rear, expanding the theatre/arts space and/or offer studio workspaces. Residents also suggested creating links to the college, making more of the building’s facilities and acting as an informal information centre for those visiting the centre.

Why it is useful:

  • The Theatre is a valued local asset providing access to much needed community infrastructure and would help to develop the evening economy in the town centre
  • Enables the Theatre to increasingly be open to the public and cater for local interests

Who needs to be involved:

  • The Bull Theatre: Lead
  • Barnet and Southgate College: Potential partner (linked performing arts subjects)
  • Council: Support idea
  • Town Team: Promote

How to get started:

  • Test ideas locally (please give feedback to this project idea)

Viability considerations:

  • Funding: Arts Council, crowdfunding, or through a membership model
  • Site: Owned by the council
  • Resource: Requires theatre to invest time in setting up / promoting

Example: Arcola Theatre

The Arcola Theatre offers a ‘contributor’ supporter membership for £50/year in return for several small perks including special offers and a discount at the bar. The theatre has a strong community offer and events they host for public outreach, from Rap v Poetry, sustainability futures talks, artists networking, and schools workshops. They support their local community through hosting community theatre companies, a programme to offer free rehearsal space to BAME and refugee artists, and pay-what-you-can tickets.