Theatres in Towns: Why they matter

Jenny Hughes, Gemma Edwards, Helen Nicholson, Cara Gray

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This briefing paper reports on research on theatre in towns undertaken between 2021 and 2022. When the research began in March 2021, the long-term effects of the Covid-19 global pandemic on theatres, town centres, and the cultural life of towns was only just coming into focus. By 31st March 2023, one of the most iconic of town theatres, Oldham Coliseum, had closed its doors for the last time. This closure throws a spotlight on the value of theatres in towns for local employment, audiences, artists, and communities.

Our research identifies the positive contribution theatres make to towns across England. Where theatres are supported and thrive, they bring a range of social benefits and creative opportunities to communities and townspeople. The research also shows the risks and challenges theatres face, and what would be lost if theatres in towns close.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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