The auditorium at Crown Wharf Theatre

Work moves into the auditorium

Things are progressing nicely with the Crown Wharf Theatre project as we move ever closer to getting the building ready to open its doors for the community.

At the end of last year, the Crown Wharf Theatre Charity received a £75,000 grant from the Community and Environment Fund. After starting work on the back-of-house areas last year – which is progressing nicely – we’re using the Community and Environment Fund grant to move our efforts into the auditorium, which is incredibly exciting!

The grant will fund the octagonal lighting grid, sprung timber flooring, sound equipment and acoustic treatments. Work is getting under way on this soon and we’ll keep you posted on progress.

If you’d like to volunteer with Crown Wharf Theatre, please complete this short form. We’ll need lots of extra help as we begin work in the auditorium and when the theatre opens its doors!

CWT End of Year Newsletter

And so now it’s Christmas… And what have we done?

Another year over…And a new one just begun!

This year has seen the Crown Wharf Theatre project get back up on its feet and back out in the community.

The year started with the live stream of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which as well as raising funds for the project, reminded us all how much we missed live theatre.

This was followed by some sneak peak site tours of The Crown Wharf pub which gave us an opportunity to thank some of our wonderful supporters of the project that have sponsored a seat or offered donations in kind so far.

Then there was of course the grand opening of the pub itself, which we think is even more impressive than anyone ever imagined and gave us the opportunity to host some events right on the Crown Wharf site.

The amazing new pub inspired us to host our first Theatre Takeover event which took place on the August bank holiday, bringing us Ukulele’s, musical theatre, Shakespeare with a twist, live comedy and the first of many pub sing-a-longs. Come on, it’s pub attached to a theatre.

Then there was another first with Wharfstock, our first music festival made possible by the team over at Stone Food & Drink Festival. Vinyl Overdrive, Hairy Eyeball & Lack of Commitments raised the roof, raised funds and rocked the crowds! And despite holding an outdoor event in October, we managed to avoid the rain. If only there was a big enough space able to host indoor events all year round…

Music Theatre International released the rights to a cabaret of songs for a limited time in support of the theatre industry to reduce the cost of performing and maximise the fundraising potential and Theatre 1 took full advantage, entertaining the Sunday night Crown Wharf Theatre Bar community, once again showing their support and raising some valuable cash in the process.

Build Update

2021 was the year that saw Crown Wharf Theatre taking over the theatre site from Joule’s in April, when we signed our 50 (yes fifty!) year lease.

We immediately got to work, and the first priority was making some essential changes to the ‘back of house’ areas to ensure the facility could cater appropriately for the wide range of community groups that have expressed an interested in the project.  We have built a small link extension to ensure under-cover access to the toilets and dressing rooms, and made some big internal layout changes that have afforded us two large chorus dressing rooms, meaning the theatre will be able to host casts of up to 60 performers, great news for local theatre companies, performance academies, schools, scouts, guides etc.

With the major works complete we have gone on to commission an electrical specialist to bring mains power into the auditorium and carry out the first fix electrical installation back of house.  With all that completed in the Autumn, we now have a contractors working on site installing all the insulation and plasterboard, the back of house areas are looking more and more habitable by the day.

We have some incredible help over the year, local electrical lighting specialist LAUK have donated our domestic lighting fixtures, Magnet have donated a kitchen and another local company AT Commercial Interiors are helping with our bathrooms.

More exciting still, we have recently learnt that one of our funding bids has been successful.   The Community and Environment Fund, in place to benefit communities being disrupted by the construction of HS2, has awarded CWT with £75k.  This means we are now ready to start work in the auditorium, and from January we will be focussing on the complex electrical installation, hanging the lighting grid and laying down a substantial sprung timber floor.

And Finally…

On behalf of all the team at CWT, we’d just like to say a huge thank you for the tremendous support you’ve given us this year. Whether you’ve joined us for an event, shared your amazing talents free of charge, represented CWT volunteering at this year’s Ironman event, helped unload building materials on site, driven all the way to hull to pick up a donated kitchen, bought a pint of Much A-Brew About Nothing or simply popped £1 in a bucket it all gets us one step closer.

So, there’s only one thing left to do and that is to wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Cheers!

CWT supporters enjoy special mini tours

We were delighted to be able to offer early supporters of the project a sneak-peak tour of the theatre and Joule’s pub back in May.

Ensuring we kept things safe, we ran multiple mini tours across the day. This allowed around 40 people who have backed the theatre with sponsorship and other forms of support a good look round. Joule’s were kind enough to give everyone a free taste of some of their finest pale ale as we gathered outside in the courtyard afterwards to talk about the theatre plans and answer some questions.

To find out more about how you can support the project, check out the fundraising menu above!

Work kicks off on the back of house

The CWT charity now officially holds the keys to what is set to be a transformative theatre and events space. The shell is complete (an amazing donation from Joule’s Brewery to the town), the lease is signed, and the theatre bar will very soon be christened when Joule’s open the doors on their new brewery tap at Crown Wharf. 

Thanks to £50,000 of funding from Stone Town Hall Charities, work has kicked off on the theatre’s back of house areas. We’ve brought contractors in to build a single-storey link extension (ensuring our performers have a dry route to stage), they’ve knocked through to connect Wharfinger’s Cottage to the side store building, and they’ve extended the floor in one of the two chorus dressing rooms. It’s been incredibly exciting to see work getting under way. 

The rest of the backstage area will be community built, so keep an eye on our website and CWT on social media for details on how you or your business can get involved. We’ll need your help to get the back of house finished.

The auditorium has been given a boost by some generous offers in kind but there is still a way to go. The world of grant funding has started to open up again and we have some promising bids in the pipeline, so fingers crossed it won’t be too long until we can open our doors. 

Progress Report – April 2021

The community of Stone is pulling together in a huge effort to deliver a brand-new theatre and community space in the town. Crown Wharf Theatre trustee Leo Capernaros gives us the latest news…

In January 2019 we were granted charitable status by the Charities Commission and a new charity, creatively named ‘The Crown Wharf Theatre’, was born. A lot has happened since then, including of course the pandemic, and whilst this has had an impact on the project, it has only made us more determined to realise the dream of bringing this fantastic new facility to the town, in our opinion it’s more vital than ever.

The charity is solely made up of local volunteers, each of whom around busy day-jobs and family lives are working flat out to make the most of this rare and fantastic chance to bring a theatre and community space to Stone.

The way the project has presented itself is unusual. In the beginning we were making tentative enquiries and imagined perhaps a ten-year journey of raising the money, making plans and then eventually developing a theatre (somewhere in Stone). But with the massive leg-up from Joule’s Brewery, our journey has been moving very quickly and in some ways is slightly back to front.

On the 1st April 2021 we signed the lease and got the keys to the shell of the theatre building, and the responsibility is now ours to raise the funding, complete the internal fit-out and then run the building for the benefit of as many people as possible. Whilst we can’t thank our lucky stars enough for the wonderful and wholehearted support from Joule’s Brewery, it has meant we have been playing catch-up from day one. It’s a little like building the plane whilst you’re flying along!

Firstly, we had to get charitable status, a drawn-out process with an extremely busy Charities Commission. We had to set our charitable purposes, governance, bank accounts, insurances, tax and accounting procedures, all the nuts-and-bolts stuff which ensure we’re properly run. At the same time, we had to quickly raise funds in order to commission specialist theatre architects who have worked with Joule’s during the design and build process to ensure the building shell is fit for purpose.

We have also had to consult with a range of theatre experts and quantity surveyors to capture the full scope of the internal fit-out, from heating and ventilation, to floor coverings, acoustics, comfy seating and the multitude of different types of cable required to be embedded into the walls of a functioning theatre.

While all this has been going on, we have had to think about the future. To give major funders the confidence and to make sure the theatre will be self-sustaining in the long-term we have had to research and build a fully costed and viable business plan. We continue to talk with potential user groups, ensuring we develop a formula that keeps the building accessible, affordable and occupied as much as possible.

Covid-19 has of course slowed things down, quite rightly all of our priorities shifted whilst we dealt with this painful and wide-reaching disaster. The pandemic led to the pausing of many grant schemes and put a stop to all the big fundraising events we had planned for last year.

The total fundraising target is £750,000 (gulp!), which would deliver a high-end fully finished auditorium with lots of bells and whistles. Given everything that has happened, we are now taking a phased approach and looking to raise a proportion of that figure which would provide us with enough equipment and finishes to make the space usable.

From there we can start to use the theatre, have some fun and continue to fundraise and develop the building over time.
Continuing to raise money is of course a primary objective, and if you want to help out there are all sorts of ways to donate:
– You can visit our JustGiving page (https://www.justgiving.com/crownwharftheatre)
– Hold your own fundraising event on our behalf
– Name a seat
– Become a ‘Founding Partner’ be that as an individual, family or if you own a business.

(Email info@crownwharftheatre.org.uk to enquire)

But it’s not just about cold hard cash, we have had some incredible help from volunteers, helping us in all sorts of ways, be that volunteering at our community events, helping us with websites, communications, accounting and technical expertise. It’s been brilliant to feel the community getting behind the project, and now we are full steam ahead with bid writing and planning some exciting events for 2021 it would be great to hear from you! If you feel like you have something to bring to the party please do get in touch.

We are also on the lookout for support from local contractors, tradespeople and suppliers offering expertise, labour and materials, all of which will help reduce the overall cost of the project. We will recognise any business that wants to support the project on a permanent ‘Founding Partners Wall’, so do get in touch if you think you could help out and be part of this incredible ‘legacy project’.

So where are we today? Now we have got the keys it’s time to press on. We are ready to begin fitting out the back of house areas such as the changing rooms, toilets and green room straight away, so there are lots of opportunities coming up for tradespeople, nifty DIYers and anyone who can hold a paintbrush to get stuck in. The auditorium fit out still requires more secured funding, but by hook or by crook we will make it happen. There’s a mountain of work to do, but step by step we will get there, together.

You can find out more about this hugely exciting project – and get involved – on this very website. Please feel free to have a click around!

We’ve got the keys!

It’s full steam ahead as we take on the theatre building

Our exciting plans to deliver a brand-new theatre in Stone have taken a major step forward.

We’ve signed the lease to take on the building from Joule’s Brewery – and work will very soon be getting under way on the backstage areas.

The outer shell of the theatre has been built by Joule’s as a donation to the community – it’s part of their Crown Wharf development which features a flagship brewery tap that will be opening its doors later this year.

Representatives from Crown Wharf Theatre Charity Trustees Mandy Gauge, Jill Hood, Rob Kenney, Leo Capernaros & Harri Capernaros alongside representatives from Joules Brewery

We signed the lease to take on the theatre building on 1 April, and we’ll pay just a pound a year in perpetuity. It’s now down to us  to transform a shell into a fully equipped and professional performance and events space, with an internal fit-out of the auditorium, back of house and workshop areas estimated to cost around £750,000.

We’re taking a phased approach and looking to raise a proportion of the total figure initially to provide enough equipment and finishes to make the space usable. From there, the theatre can start to be used while fundraising continues to further develop the building over time.

Fundraising has been under way for 12 months through a sponsor-a-seat scheme and events like the recent YouTube live streaming of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Now the lease has been signed, fundraising efforts will be ramped up, and we’re looking to raise money through funding bids, corporate sponsors, private donations and general fundraising.

Work to start on the back of house – can you help?

Work will be starting soon on the back-of-house areas, which will include dressing rooms and green room facilities alongside an on-site workshop, and the charity would like to hear from local contractors, tradespeople and suppliers who can offer expertise, labour and materials to help reduce the overall cost of the back-of-house work. Businesses will also have the opportunity to become Founding Partners and be recognised permanently inside the theatre on the ‘Founding Partners Wall’.

When fully completed, Crown Wharf Theatre will seat over 200 people in an octagonal auditorium, with all the seats moveable to create the flexibility for a huge range of events, filling a longstanding gap in Stone’s cultural and social landscape.

Full steam ahead!

Craig Chesters, Crown Wharf Theatre trustee, said: “We are so grateful to Joule’s for their help in getting the project to this stage. Right from the start, they’ve shared our vision for what a new theatre can bring to Stone, and their support shows just how committed they are to our town.

“We’ve had some incredible help from volunteers, and it’s been brilliant to feel the community getting behind the project. Now we’ve signed the lease and are full steam ahead with bid writing and planning some exciting events for 2021, we’d love to hear from people and businesses who want to get involved to make Crown Wharf Theatre a reality.”

‘We’re thrilled the charity has signed the lease’

Phillipa Machin, Joule’s Brewery marketing manager, added: “More than ever, we were eager to be involved in the community whilst building our Stone Taphouse, the most important project in the Joule’s history which sees the brands return to our historic hometown. What better way to be involved in the community than through the sponsorship of a community theatre, as well as a heritage centre?

“As we get ever closer to finishing the taphouse and can see the theatre bar evolve, we’re excited to work alongside the charity to create a fantastic offer. I know I can’t wait to be sitting in the theatre amongst friends with a pint of Joule’s in hand watching a fantastic local production, enjoying a film or even an album launch. So of course we’re absolutely thrilled that the Crown Wharf Theatre charity have signed the lease and we’re looking forward to seeing the building come to life very soon as they begin works on site. Watch this space for an exciting array of events coming soon.”

If you would like to volunteer, you can Contact Us…

The auditorium at Crown Wharf Theatre

Building the Crown Wharf Theatre – Part 4

As we wave farewell to summer, we say hello to the fresher nights of autumn and to a watertight and windproof auditorium. The completed wall and roof cladding not only keeps out the wind and the rain but has been designed to provide the theatre with its own identity.

The outer shell is covered with Corten steel, a steel designed to weather over time to form a protective layer. Due to its small copper content, it is designed to oxidise upon being exposed to the elements and subsequently forms the smooth rusted finish that can already quite strikingly be seen from the canal side. This makes the building extremely durable and ensures that the theatre, as part of a larger development, really stands out from the crowd which we hope you agree that this bold design choice does.

We look forward to seeing it evolve over time and whether you love it or hate it, it is certainly a conversation starter, making it impossible to stroll along the canal without spotting it.

Internally this strong sense of identity continues with the exposed industrial design of the ceiling- our crowning glory!

Building the Crown Wharf Theatre – Part 3

Anyone who has taken a walk along the canal recently would have seen what tremendous progress Joule’s Brewery have been making. All materials have been meticulously chosen to reflect the heritage of the brand and site from the reclaimed bricks to the cast iron Joule’s cross, seamlessly integrated within the dramatic steelwork. We highly recommend taking a wander and looking at how beautiful these buildings will be. 

From the canalside you can clearly see where the pub ends and the theatre begins as our octagonal auditorium stands proud but naked! Yet to be waterproofed and wind protected, we are currently working alongside our specialist theatre architects to ensure the best possible materials are used for the walls and roof- rain hitting a hot tin roof may work for some shows but not others!

To the left of the auditorium you will see what will be our dressing rooms, production office and workshop snaking round the far corner of the site. Plans are currently being drawn up by a local architect for a small extension at the back of Wharfingers Cottage to maximise the available space and flow of backstage traffic. 

Once the auditorium walls are built and the roof is covered it will 100% be down to the charity to do the rest. If you’ve got the skills, we’ve got the jobs!

Get in touch.

Building the Crown Wharf Theatre – Part 2

Joule’s Brewery have been making the most of the beautiful summer and have been powering on with the build.

The shell of Wharfingers Cottage is now complete which will be closely followed by the workshop/storage unit which will be made watertight and windproof with a green shutter door, or two, or three.

Wharfingers store, which has been opened out into the auditorium space, is being lovingly restored with the addition of a steel frame to help support the eventual roof and a lighting grid.

And the most dramatic addition to the theatre build so far has been design and construction of the auditorium’s steel frame which has been no mean feat. A challenge to our talented engineers, whose calculations extended to 189 sheets of data- that’s enough to stage a paper aeroplane competition for 17 football teams! (Something we’ve always wondered about).

The framework consists of 67 tonnes of steel which is the equivalent of 17 elephants, or 67,000 penguins, or 5.6 double decker buses (now we know!) And our steel story continues with the design of our balcony level and tech room currently underway which will hopefully be fitted towards the end of Joule’s Brewery’s outer-shell construction period.

In the meantime, the first bricks have been laid…