Wyvern could soon be one of the best in the country, says director
SWINDON easily has the potential to become one of the top performance venues in the country, according to the Wyvern Theatre’s director.
Derek Aldridge, who has been the director for the past four years, said he is fully supportive of Swindon Council’s commitment to improving the town’s arts scene and believes current ticket sales demonstrate the demand for theatre is Swindon.
“Over the last four years we have seen an increase of ten percent,” said Derek.
“Across the whole year we are averaging about 70 per cent ticket sales, which is fantastic. Most places would love to have those sales.
“When we get the bigger shows people flock to us and we very regularly sell out.”
Earlier this year, the council unveiled its masterplan to help improve the town centre, and within it made a commitment to build a new performing arts centre and art gallery.
Currently the Wyvern Theatre has a capacity of 650, but Derek believes Swindon would have no problem filling a 1,200-seat venue.
He said: “The Wyvern is currently very strong at comedy and children’s shows, largely because of the make-up of the town with lots of young families.
“The big comedy acts are very popular and Swindon is now being seen as a good place for comics to warm up before they go out on tour.
“The only thing limiting us is the size of the Wyvern. If we had a bigger venue then Swindon could easily become a main tour town.”
Derek accepts while cuts have to be made, the arts still have an important part to play in a town.
“When an employer is looking set up they are often looking to places with a large number of potential employees,” he said.
“The arts add to the appeal of a town and make it more of an attractive option to people.
“On top of that, it helps to improve the imagination and creativity of a work force.”
The Wyvern is run by HQ Theatres, the UK’s second largest theatre management company, but the building is owned by the council.
As a result, one of the prime aims of the theatre is to make sure it appeals to all of the town.
Derek said: “We have the big name shows that attract the bigger audiences but putting on performances by local groups is just as important.
“We have regular performances by Swindon Amateur Light Operatic Society and shows from local dance groups and bands.
The theatre once again ran its Summer Youth Project this year with a performance of Our House last week.
The programme has been running for 19 years and gives the opportunity for several hundred youngsters to put on a show every summer.
“It was really successful once again and many of the shows were sold out,” said Derek.
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