STUDENTS of dance and musical theatre will be learning their craft in Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre from next month, thanks to a partnership between the city council and one of the largest performing arts colleges in Europe.
Leicester-based Addict Dance Academy (ADA) – which delivers foundation and degree-level courses – will use the theatre’s auditorium, stage, studio and foyer areas for teaching purposes from 11 September, initially for a period of one year.
In exchange, ADA will pay the city council a licence fee to cover the costs associated with reopening the theatre, which has been mothballed since the COVID pandemic forced it to close in 2020.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Since the Haymarket Theatre closed during lockdown, we’ve been looking for a sustainable solution that will guarantee the future of this wonderful building.
“Using the theatre as a teaching venue for dance and musical theatre students will bring the building back into use in the short-term and could even be part of a more permanent solution, so I’m really pleased to announce our partnership with Addict Dance Academy.
“In the longer term, however, I’m determined to reopen the theatre to the public, and look forward to working with partners to create a programme that will attract new audiences and complement what’s on at Curve and De Montfort Hall.
“While that will require some further modest investment, to allow us to replace outdated equipment and carry out further upgrades, we remain committed to reopening the theatre fully and making sure that the lights stay on at this iconic Leicester landmark.”
The licence with ADA will run for one year initially, but over the next 12 months, both parties will be able to assess whether a longer-term arrangement would be viable.
Established in 2012, ADA currently operates from two sites in the city – Imperial House, on St Nicholas Circle, and premises on Wellington Street.
Founder and principal Gareth Chown (pictured left) said: “We’re already one of the largest performing arts colleges in Europe, with around 600 students on our books, but demand for our courses at both further and higher education level is huge. Last year, for example, we had to turn down applications from more than 1,000 would-be students because we just couldn’t accommodate them.
“Having the Haymarket Theatre as our teaching base means there’s potential for us to expand our remit and work towards developing a wider range of complementary courses covering subjects such as sound, lighting, wardrobe and make-up.
“The opportunity to teach our students on one of the biggest theatre stages in the country is amazing and we can’t wait to move in on 11 September, in time for the start of the new academic term.”
Antony Flint, venue director at De Montfort Hall – which will take over the day-to-day running of the Haymarket Theatre – said: “The cultural ecosystem in the city is quite finely balanced so it’s important that the Haymarket Theatre works alongside other arts organisations in the city rather than competing against them.
“The mixed use model for the theatre that we hope will develop out of the partnership with ADA should help support culture in the city, while also making sure the venue is financially viable.
“Having an education company using the theatre during the daytime provides a really solid base to work on and, importantly, doesn’t prevent us from exploring further opportunities that could help ensure the Haymarket Theatre has a bright, and sustainable, future.”
Work to prepare the building for the students’ arrival will soon get under way, while on-going works to complete the theatre’s entrance and lift area will continue until the end of next month.
The Haymarket Theatre will celebrate its 50th anniversary on 17 October 2023.
Picture caption: Gareth Chown, principal of Addict Dance Academy, and City Mayor Peter Soulsby announce the new partnership.