Programme funding for Hullabaloo

Peter Lathan

Darlington-based children’s theatre company Theatre Hullabaloo has been awarded new funding to develop its programming. The grant of £140,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will go towards the costs of programming to engage young audiences and families.

Due to open in December this year, The Hullabaloo will be the only specialist theatre of its type north of London and, as a national centre of theatre for young audiences and a place to play and learn, it will present world-class performances for children, in-house creative play installations, offer a wide range of creative opportunities and classes for families, and be a focal point for creative education.

The venue itself, which is being built in an Edwardian Fire Station on a site adjacent to the Darlington Hippodrome, formerly the Civic Theatre, which is itself currently undergoing a major refurbishment, will include a 150-seat studio theatre, creative play installation space, café area, workshop/rehearsal space, dressing rooms, toilets and external play space.

“This financial support is so important to the theatre,” said Miranda Thain, Creative Producer at Theatre Hullabaloo, “and will enable us to put The Hullabaloo on the map nationally and internationally throughout a mind-blowingly inspiring three-year opening programme of work.

“It means that the activity offered at The Hullabaloo in those crucial first years of opening its doors will be of the same quality and ambition as the building itself. It will also support a small producing company to transition into a new business model, attract new audiences and move closer to longer term sustainability.”

“Esmée Fairbairn Foundation supports the artistic and financial sustainability of the arts sector and aims to enable the widest range of people to participate,” a statement from the Foundation said. “We fund exceptional organisations developing timely and innovative approaches that will result in a better experience for artists, audiences and participants.

“We wish Theatre Hullabaloo every success in creating lasting opportunities for young audiences in the North East to experience high-quality theatre, creative learning and participation.”

The Hullabaloo is a partnership between Theatre Hullabaloo and Darlington Borough Council. The total cost for the capital development is £2.8m which is funded mainly through grants from Arts Council England and Darlington Borough Council but more funding is still needed.

“This grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation provides us with funding to develop much of the magical creative programme we hope to achieve at The Hullabaloo,” added Laura Case, Development Director at Theatre Hullabaloo, “but we are still actively fundraising in order to make the building itself everything we've dreamed of and still have more than £200,000 to raise. We are keen to talk to businesses and individuals who can help us achieve our target.”