Outdoor theatre mooted for Worcester

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A £10 million arts quarter in Worcester is being planned which would include a new studio theatre and outdoor performance space.

An architectural firm is drawing up the designs, after a local businessman and arts supporter bought the site of an old porcelain factory close to Worcester city centre.

Colin Kinnear, who is a trustee of charity the Bransford Trust, in his brief to the architect, proposed that the cultural space should be reminiscent of Paris’ Left Bank.

According to the appointed firm, KKE Architects, one of the old Victorian buildings would house a 150-seat studio theatre, while two other spaces previously used as showrooms would be turned into flexible performance areas. Several sheds would be demolished to make way for courtyards, where an open-air theatre would be created for the summer months.

Both professional and local amateur performance groups would be invited to put on shows, with a view to a local operator managing the programme.

Bars, cafes, restaurants, an ice rink and a craft centre and shops have also been proposed.

The architect is carrying out a feasibility study and will show the final designs to local entrepreneurs and arts operators by the end of the year. It hopes to submit a planning application to the council in the spring, with a possible completion date of autumn 2015, if approved.

Vincent Kirk, managing director at KKE Architects, said: “The site is incredibly well placed. It’s really central, between the cathedral and town centre, river and the basin and the idea is that it will link all these things and give Worcester a bit of a lift.

“The family trust is well on the way to developing the basic shell [of the project] but the theatre is the big challenge, to find out how to get that fitted out so local operators can run it and bring in professional groups.”