The move, which aims to secure the future of the 1890 building as a performance space, incorporates a three step plan: to ensure the sustainability of this important cultural venue; to enhance the range of creative activities available in the city centre and broaden the range of participants engaging in the theatre’s activities; and to work towards a major transformation of the Barnfield into a vibrant creative hub serving the communities of Exeter, Devon and further afield.
The takeover, which will see the Northcott operating across both its existing campus-situated theatre and from the 286 seat venue in the centre of Exeter, comes as a result of extensive work with partners and architects over an eighteen month period to explore ways in which the much-loved Barnfield can be safeguarded.
It follows an increase in the Northcott’s activities at The Barnfield over the past year. These include the Northcott Young Company moving all its events to the venue, the hosting of a number of talks, events and workshops for the artists development programme under the banner Northcott Futures, using the Barnfield as a development space for new work created by Northcott’s Kickstart Company of young performers, and using the venue as a base for work presented outdoors in the city centre. In addition, the Barnfield has been adopted as a rehearsal space for work presented at the Northcott and as a hub to facilitate new work by local companies and artists. The venue has also been employed by the Northcott for a diverse range of community projects.
The Northcott assuming the management of the Barnfield will create an opportunity to further extend this activity, with the long term objectives being, to nurture local theatre talent, to act as a centre for community engagement and to maintain and extend a rich cultural mix of work available to residents of the city and beyond.
The immediate impact will be increased engagement with existing users and audiences, the improvement of the creative, participatory and consumer offer at the venue and the introduction of a range of new opportunities for young people, communities and local artists. It will include a drive to raise funds to restore the venue to include better access, new spaces and environmental sustainability.