Theatre company raises curtains on new centre after grant support

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A Suffolk theatre company supported by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s Covid recovery scheme has celebrated the official opening of a new centre featuring live streaming facilities.

Eastern Angles received £25,000 from the LEP’s Business Resilience and Recovery Scheme towards the refurbishment and installation of digital equipment for its new multi-purpose facility.

Once a primary school, drama centre and home to the Suffolk Records Office, the Eastern Angles Centre in Gateacre Road, Ipswich, now boasts a live-streaming theatre, co-working space, community room, Box Office, rehearsal studio and hot-desking area.

Its grand opening ceremony on 20 July began with a performance of Streets Alive, a free street theatre project that toured to Suffolk towns and playgrounds throughout that month, while stilt walking and puppetry brought the story of Suffolk servant girl and convict Margaret Catchpole to life in the car park. After the show, guests were given a tour of the facilities and an exhibition looking at the past, present and future of the building.

The Centre first opened its doors in Spring 2021 but Covid restrictions prevented an event and the new space had to be introduced slowly and carefully, welcoming local people and organisations and developing community projects.

The development of the Eastern Angles Centre has been made possible by a 100-year lease from Suffolk County Council, the refurbishment and installation of new digital equipment from New Anglia LEP, support from Ipswich Borough Council for its Homework Club and Digital Drop-In sessions, and its growing band of users including Inside Out Community, Ipswich Reggae Choir, Magpie Theatre, Read Easy, Ipswich Community Media, and more.

Iain Dunnett, Senior Coordinator for the Growing Places Fund, said: “The Eastern Angles Theatre Company have made further improvements to their Eastern Angles Centre in Ipswich with support from the LEP through the Business Resilience and Recovery Fund. They have improved facilities for performance at the Sir John Mills Theatre, increased facilities for community involvement and improved back-office support for their well-regarded performances that tour across East Anglia.”

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