"Today further grants have been awarded as part of the Culture Recovery Fund. The Royal Exchange Theatre is incredibly grateful to HM Government, the Department of Culture Media and Sport, Arts Council England and all those who have made this funding possible. The Royal Exchange has been awarded £2.85m - a vital influx of funding necessary for our theatre’s recovery. The impact of this pandemic on our Company and our industry has been devastating, this grant is a critical investment which will allow us to reignite and reopen our unique theatre. With this grant in place we can rebuild a financially resilient and artistically innovative theatre company which is fundamentally relevant to the people it serves."
Ben Caldwell, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Royal Exchange Theatre
During the last six months our dedicated teams have created online spaces where communities could meet, stay connected and be creative. In this digital space we rehearsed and made 5 new pieces of work, delivered 316 workshops with 9884 participations. We had conversations and debates, streamed archived performances and offered support to young people, older people, artists and freelance theatre workers.
The Culture Recovery Fund allows the Royal Exchange to lay the foundations of a far-reaching recovery plan which sees us reimagine relationships with communities, artists and audiences. It allows us to support and nurture the talent of freelance theatre workers and create spaces where communities feel empowered.
The CRF grant will allow us to:
• Create a diverse artistic programme, platforming work from theatre makers, communities, writers and independent artists from across the North West, for our multiple physical spaces.
• Reconfigure our unique space making our extensive Great Hall one of the most original socially distanced performance spaces in Manchester and the country.
• Support the North West’s local freelance theatre ecology by repurposing our Swan Street workshop and studio space to become a Supported Making Space for the North West; for scenic, prop and costume making as well as studio space for rehearsals and R&D.
• Digitally capture and share high quality content online, extending the local, national and international reach of all of our work.
Artistic Director Roy Alexander Weise, said "The theatre world has made rallying cries for change. Change to our industry's outdated practices and processes; change to who is given space and value on and offstage. The real world simultaneously has done the same because the systemic inequalities exacerbated by Covid-19 were (and still are) impossible to ignore.
Our communities have taught us what our purpose is as a publicly funded theatre, and as a company we are galvanised by this. We have taken this time to imagine a new way of working with and serving all communities - audiences, artists, participants and freelance theatre workers. In partnership with our communities, we will use the Cultural Recovery Fund grant to embed this much needed structural change and become a truly inclusive, world class theatre for the future of Greater Manchester."
Executive Director Steve Freeman,
Artistic Directors Roy Alexander Weise & Bryony Shanahan
Chair of the Board Ben Caldwell
“The Royal Exchange Theatre is incredibly special. I love the design of the theatre. I love the fact that it has found the perfect relationship between the performer and audience, making demands on both, so there is a continuous conversation, between the city and the theatre, enriching both.”
Actor, Don Warrington
“Not only is the Royal Exchange an iconic cultural landmark in our mighty city, it also has a grassroots reach that is perhaps not always quite as visible to the general population as the grandness of the theatre space itself. I have witnessed first-hand the life-changing effects of the many community groups run from that beautiful place: the vibrant and diverse young company and the vital and utterly wonderful Elders group, for example. The theatre enables them to produce professional-standard work and provides a regular creative safe space for people who might otherwise have no access to participatory performance and production. Friendships and alliances have formed, sometimes across cultural barriers and generations, that could not have been forged anywhere else.
I love this theatre, its work and its people far beyond the obvious joy it’s given me as a performer and an audience member over the years. I love what it represents, and what it does to serve the people of our city every day.”
Actor, Julie Hesmondhalgh