Theatre For Exeter | Hopes raised for new theatre in City Centre

Wordle from "A new theatre for Exeter"

report on the Regeneration of South Street/Fore Street to go to next week’s Scrutiny Committee: Economy highlights that as part of  this work, there would be an examination of the need for a new performance venue in Exeter and whether the current building or its site has a role to play in meeting any such requirement.

As a result of this announcementI received this e-mail from Peter Goodwin, Chair of Theatre for Exeter Group CIC

Hello Supporter, Friend, Theatre Lover, etc.

You may have seen today’s edition of the local paper – the Express and Echo. But if you haven’t, here is a link to the article that gives wonderful news to anyone who has thought that Exeter could do with a new performance space. It was headlined on the front page with Hopes raised for new theatre in City Centre

Cllr Rosie Denham kindly made time to attend the meeting last night of the Theatre for Exeter Group so that she could tell us the news in person and give us a little more insight into the talks that have been talking place. She was very positive about the TFE group and expressed gratitude for the work that we have been doing over the past three years saying that our report and the further research that we have undertaken will be hugely valuable in the consultations announced today.

Her next step is to put together a steering group for the consultations and she hoped that the TFEG would stay together with a representative sitting on the new group. She feels that we speak with the ‘public voice’ as to what is needed in the city and she values our contributions. Work on forming the steering group will start very soon and it is hoped that the consultations will take place over the summer with a report ready before the end of the year. Of course, the entire City Council is being re-elected in May because of the local boundary changes but we are fairly confident that whatever happens politically, this project will have cross-party support and will be pushed forward.

So – thank you for your continued support, signing petitions, writing to the papers and to the Council, and especially to those who have donated to help us pay for the website (soon to be updated), brochures, public meetings, etc. The TFEG will continue to meet with renewed vigour as we are determined that now the ball has definitely started rolling (with a huge kick from the Council), we are not going to let it stop until it has reached its goal!


Do spread the word.


With best wishes,


Pete Goodwin

Chair – Theatre for Exeter Group CIC

#Theatre4Exeter | The Boat Shed – a new theatre for the Quay

Screen shot 2015-07-11 at 09.13.37

The article Boat Shed: Plans for £4m theatre and nightspot at Exeter Quay [E&E, 09 July 2015] unveils the ambitious plans to turn derelict MacLaines Warehouses at Exeter Quay into a £4m creative space, which will include a new theatre, live music hall, cafe/bar, bakery and indoor market.

Firstly, I must declare an interest. I am a member of the Board of the Bike Shed Theatre – a position I hold as much because I’m a theatre practitioner (in my free time I am a freelance theatre sound designer) as well as being an ECC councillor.

Secondly, I do NOT see this an alternative to any plans to come forward from the Theatre For Exeter Development Group for a theatre in the city centre.

Thirdly, the business plan takes into consideration the financial reality of the current political climate – and seeks to maximise earned income rather than expecting government subsidy. That said, there is the hope of securing investment from three main funders: Heritage Lottery Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and Arts Council England. We’ll also expect to raise smaller amounts from trusts and foundations, local businesses and generous individuals.

McLaine's Warehouse in 1870
MacLaine’s Warehouse in 1870

David Lockwood, Director of The Bike Shed Theatre explains the plans…

Two years ago, I was shown around the empty warehouses that used to house the Maritime Museum down on Exeter’s quay. The intention had been to find a site for the Bike Shed to move in the Summer months when people don’t want to be down in a cellar so much. Two things immediately became apparent:

  • it would take a huge amount of time, effort and money to get these spaces open for a pop-up Summer retreat;
  • if you were willing to spend the time, effort and money, you’d be able to create something phenomenal and unique for the city.

Since then, we’ve been dreaming about what we could do with the building and for the last nine months we’ve been working with some brilliant people. including the leading international theatre architects Haworth Tompkins, to present a feasibility study to the owners of the building, Exeter Canal and Quay Trust. On the 6th July, we presented our plans.

Our intention is that the building will include:

  • a 250-seat flexible theatre;
  • a smaller double-height space for comedy and live music;
  • a cafe, bar and bakery;
  • an indoor market for local craft, design, food and drink;
  • co-working space and studios for creative companies;
  • rehearsal rooms;
  • space for outreach and education work.

We want to create a space that is more than just a theatre. In fact, more than just a traditional arts space. We’re keen to have a sense of openness between the performance spaces, creative working areas and social parts of the building. Our aim is that the new space – provisionally called The Boat Shed – will be accessible to all, a creative and social part of civic life for all curious enough to want to pay a visit.


So where now? We’ve kindly been given two years by Exeter Canal and Quay Trust to start raising the funds needed to convert the space. Whilst we’re doing this, we’re keen to show people around the building and are inviting ideas from the public. We’ll update you regularly with news of our progress and opportunities to come and view the space.

Normally at the start of a capital project, you’d be asked for money. But at this stage we’d rather have your ideas. So if there’s anything you’d like to see in the space – however boring or outrageous – please get in touch. I’m on I look forward to hearing from you.

Read more about the plans for The Boat Shed as an engine room of creativity planned for Exeter’s historic Quayside.





David, and all at the Bike Shed

David Lockwood
David Lockwood