Derby Theatre: on the move?

Published: 1 October 2021
Reporter: Steve Orme

Audiences on a “steep increase”: Derby Theatre

Politicians and the University of Derby are exploring options to relocate Derby Theatre into a new, purpose-built building on the city’s Market Place—the site of the former Assembly Rooms.

Earlier in 2021, the city council announced plans to remodel the Market Place and create a new cultural heart for Derby. The Assembly Rooms, constructed in 1977, has not been used since a fire in the plant room on the roof of its car park in March 2014. The plant room was responsible for the venue’s electricity and lighting.

There are proposals to knock down the building and replace it with a £44 million music and performance venue on the site of the former Pink Coconut nightclub a few hundred yards away from the Market Place. The new 3,500-capacity building is to be known as the Becketwell Arena.

Councillor Matthew Holmes, the city council’s deputy leader, said, “we’re still at the exploratory stage of this potential project but creating a new home for Derby Theatre in a new purpose-built facility is a fantastic opportunity.

“It would have a truly transformational impact on Derby city centre and compliment the new entertainment and events arena being built at Becketwell. However, not everything is in our control—delivery of the scheme will be heavily dependent on securing external funding.”

Derby Theatre, part of the University of Derby, is examining options for relocating as a way of increasing locally produced content while attracting more touring productions.

Sarah Brigham, Derby Theatre’s chief executive and artistic director, added, "we love our current home but pre-pandemic, our audiences and community engagement were on a steep increase. These initial talks mean we’ll be creating a cultural quarter which we think will help the city to regenerate and make the Market Place a buzzing location once again for entertainment and leisure."