Aylesbury’s £42m Waterside theatre opens

Toms Mentor

Aylesbury’s new £42 million theatre, the Waterside, has opened, making it Ambassador Theatre Group’s 39th performance space.

The theatre replaces the nearby civic centre, which closed earlier this year, and is part of Aylesbury Vale District Council’s plans to regenerate the town’s canal area.

The main performance space seats 1,200 but can be adapted for other uses, including the removal of stalls seating and use of hydraulic flooring to create an 1,800 capacity hall for standing events. The venue also includes a smaller, 225-seat studio space.

Designed by performing arts specialists RHWL Arts Team, the bespoke timbers and curved roof have contributed to the increased construction cost, which was estimated by AVDC at £26 million when building commenced in 2007. Council leader John Cartwright justified the expenditure, saying: “Our faith in the theatre to deliver bigger benefits for the economy, as well as a sparkling new entertainment venue for people from all walks of life to enjoy, is already starting to be repaid.”

ATG, which also manages the nearby Milton Keynes Theatre, was appointed to run the Aylesbury Waterside in Feburary 2009. The company estimates that the theatre will receive 300,000 visitors in its first year.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, ATG co-founder and joint chief executive Howard Panter said: “In a time of such austerity, Aylesbury Vale District Council’s bold £42 million investment provides the perfect antidote.

“Tonight is a fitting commemoration of the opening of this fantastic theatre, which will undoubtedly become an important cultural resource bringing the very best in entertainment to Aylesbury and beyond.”

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