Leicester Haymarket to reopen as dance teaching venue

Published: 26 August 2023
Reporter: Steve Orme

Gareth Chown, principal of Addict Dance Academy, and City Mayor Peter Soulsby announce the new partnership at the Haymarket Theatre

Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre which was forced to close by the COVID pandemic in 2020 is to reopen—as a teaching venue for dance and musical theatre.

Leicester-based Addict Dance Academy which delivers foundation and degree-level courses will use the theatre’s auditorium, stage, studio and foyer areas for teaching from Monday 11 September, initially for a year. ADA will pay the city council a licence fee to cover the costs of reopening the theatre.

The Haymarket, built in the 1970s, had initially shut in 2007 to make way for the £61 million Curve theatre. Ten years later, the city council invested about £3 million installing new seats and fittings. The main auditorium had 901 seats.

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 the 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“While that will require some further modest investment to allow us to replace outdated equipment and carry out further upgrades, we remain committed to reopening the theatre fully and making sure that the lights stay on at this iconic Leicester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.”

ADA founder and principal Gareth Chown commented, “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.”

Antony Flint, venue director at De Montfort Hall which will take over the day-to-day running of the Haymarket Theatre, said, “having an education company using the theatre during the day 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, sustainable, future.”

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