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St George’s Theatre appoints creative director to draw up audience plan

Debbie Thompson and Barry Coleman at St George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth

Debbie Thompson and Barry Coleman at St George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth

TMS Media

A historic theatre in the heart of Great Yarmouth is looking to expand its repertoire and community connections – with some help from a coastal “cousin.”

St George’s is the resort’s only year-round theatre – providing a mix of drama, cinema and music in a converted church. But it is aiming to widen its programme and appeal through an 18-month audience development plan, with help from Sheringham Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson.

In her role as part-time creative director at St George’s, Mrs Thompson will broaden the range of events to show arts lovers across east Norfolk the hidden gem that sits under a landmark town centre clock tower.

She said: “We plan to embed St George’s in the community so it becomes part of the cultural landscape and make it a thriving venue that is embraced by local people and visitors alike.”

It is hoped to widen the appeal to families, collaborate with other regional theatres, seek to attract older people, youngsters and raise its profile by hosting events at its modern café bar. Chairman of St George’s trustees Barry Coleman said: “We are really excited about getting Debbie’s input. She has the local knowledge and expertise having done this work at another coastal community theatre.”

Mrs Thompson will carry out the St George’s role two days a week, but continues as director at the 180-seater Sheringham Little Theatre. She has been at Sheringham for 15 years, during which time the venue has built up successful pantomime and summer drama seasons – which saw it win a People’s Choice accolade in the EDP Norfolk Arts Awards last year.

St George’s, which can hold more than 240 people, already has a busy programme including touring shows, tribute bands, singalong films, drama, schools and community functions. It is home to a Fabba drama group for adults with disabilities and has a new Arts Academy for seven to 16 year olds.

Research and goals from the plan highlight more potential said Business of Culture expert Graeme Jennings who drew it up.

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