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Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds to receive £96,000 funding boost for Beyond Walls project



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One of Suffolk’s most prominent theatres has been boosted by a £96,000 grant which will be used to develop stories from the heart of rural Suffolk.

Arts Council England awarded Bury Theatre Royal the five figure sum for a three-year project called Beyond Walls, which aims to bring community voices into the theatre.

It proposes to take unheard stories from the county’s communities and develop them for performance, as well as increase engagement with workshops in towns and villages.

Sponsors of the Theatre Royal's Star Trail. Laura Hudson, Abbeyfields Clinic Robin Jackson, Churchgates Russell Greene, St Edmundsbury Wealth Management Kate Martin, Abbeycroft Leisure Keith Senior, Jacobs Allen Mark Cordell, Our Bury BID Alison Renshaw, J M Finn Julie Gilbert, Troy Jools Windermere, Greene & Greene Ian White, Becketts (15328676)
Sponsors of the Theatre Royal's Star Trail. Laura Hudson, Abbeyfields Clinic Robin Jackson, Churchgates Russell Greene, St Edmundsbury Wealth Management Kate Martin, Abbeycroft Leisure Keith Senior, Jacobs Allen Mark Cordell, Our Bury BID Alison Renshaw, J M Finn Julie Gilbert, Troy Jools Windermere, Greene & Greene Ian White, Becketts (15328676)

A theatre spokesman said: “This will be a platform for communicating important universal stories buried deep in the life of rural Suffolk, to be delivered by high calibre artists as the experts in a creative process working alongside community participants, whose voices produce contemporary, relevant, potentially lifesaving and ground-breaking new work.

“Beyond Walls has at its heart, a core model of engagement, participation and creation.

“The project will deepen the relationship between our community, theatre-makers and what is on our stage over the next three years, through artist-led commissions, the Beyond Walls Festival, inclusive and outreach workshops and longer-term engagement.”

Among the strands of the scheme is Big Skies – a creative project with teenagers to tell stories and make videos to explore themes of identity

Another is Refuge, a new play being commissioned exploring the stories of women and the theme of refuge.

Elsewhere, a two-day showcase of community work will be curated for the Beyond Walls Festival, as well as workshops for adults and with charities.

The theatre spokesman added: “Beyond Walls will also enable Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds to extend its reach and target more difficult-to-reach groups, such as rural youth, people in refuge or homeless, and elderly people.

“The inclusive workshop programmes will develop our theatre as a creative hub for all generations. This is key to Beyond Walls.

“Our region is defined by its rurality and the cultural diversity that is a unique part of that, such as eastern Europeans working in farming, Portuguese workers in the health service, American families living in the region and working on the air-bases. It has also become apparent that there is a need to increase aspirations in young people.”

The Theatre Royal is also receiving fundraising support from the Star Trail scavenger hunt, which has been running in partnership with Our Bury St Edmunds BID since May.

The trail is made up of 25 stars - each of which represent a different celebrity and have been sponsored by a local business - which have been dotted around town.

Those taking part in the trail have been tasked with finding all the stars to be in with the chance of winning one of ten prizes, which include theatre tickets and vouchers.

Entry forms can be collected from the theatre or from various locations around the town, including the tourist information points.

All entries must be received at the BID offices in Woolhall Street by Thursday, October 31.