Curtain up on school's plan for a 400-seat theatre

Vice principal Tom Hollis in the school's current drama block

Vice principal Tom Hollis in the school's current drama block Buy this photo

First published in News by

A BICESTER school has unveiled its vision for a 400-seat theatre it hopes could become a reality within five years.

Bicester Community College hopes to get community and financial backing for the project in the grounds at its Queens Avenue site.

The community-wide facility could include a café, a gallery, a professional standard theatre with orchestra pit; a second smaller flexible performing space seating up to 80 people; and rehearsal, music and recording rooms.

It is hoped the theatre could also be used as a cinema and conference facility.

The school has identified two pieces of land within its grounds where the theatre could be built – either on former playing fields behind the sports centre, or on land behind the Lower School Hall.

Vice-principal Tom Hollis, who is leading the project, said: “We are not interested in doing something limited, we want to do something that could attract quality theatre and other types of performance.

“We see this as at the heart of our future.

“It’s part of our commitment to young people, about raising aspirations and creativity, and for me creativity is a key skill.

“This is a medium to long-term vision. We would like to get out there, and see who would like to come on board and work with us to see how we can make it happen.

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“It feels the right time to get people energised in that direction.

“It will happen to be on our site, but it will be something for Bicester.

“It’s overdue, Bicester having an effective performing arts centre.”

The project is at an early stage and the cost and details of the initiative have yet to be worked out, but the facility will be open to the whole community.

The school has teamed up with charity the Akeman Trust to get the ball rolling.

Several local councillors have also joined the project board.

It hopes it may be able to tap into developer funding as more homes and other facilities are built around the town.

Chairman of the Akeman Trust Peter Barrington said: “We are delighted to be associated with this project as we have been seeking a full-scale theatre for Bicester and neighbouring villages for some years.

“Although we have had several false starts in the past we are confident this project will come to fruition to benefit students at the college and the community at large. We are a registered charity and hope to play a part in fundraising.”

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