Helping Guildford Shakespeare Company find a new home

We support a wide range of arts, heritage and cultural organisations across our borough, including the Guildford Shakespeare Company (GSC).

Cllr Nigel Manning, Lead Councillor for Finance and Asset Management, says: "We recognise Guildford Shakespeare Company's tremendous value and contribution in helping make our borough a great place to live, work and visit. We provide both practical and financial support to GSC, so they can make the most of any opportunities and flourish. Following their recent unsuccessful bid to lease Burchatts Farm Barn, we are also actively helping them to find a suitable new home somewhere in the borough.

"GSC understands and accepts that we have a duty to ensure that the Council gets best value for any asset, whilst balancing community needs with increasing financial pressures. We received a very strong set of bids during the competitive process and thoroughly evaluated each one. Looking at all aspects of a potential agreement not just the rental amount offered. We continue to work very closely with GSC and hope to find them an appropriate place very soon."

Sarah Gobran and Matt Pinches, Co-Founders of GSC, say "We accept that our bid for Burchatts Farm Barn was unsuccessful, and whilst we would have loved to build a home in this venue, we are pleased to be in further discussions with Guildford Borough Council (GBC) who are actively seeking to establish for GSC a suitable long term home. Whilst there is currently nothing concrete in place at the moment, it is important to know that GBC values GSC's contribution to our community as we continue to expand our artistic and outreach projects. "

Over the last 13 years, Guildford Shakespeare Company has grown to become one of the largest producers of home-made, professional theatre in Surrey, whose work has been seen by over 107,000 people. As well as the 40 exceptional productions they have presented to date, their involvement in the arts education sector with young and old alike has given them a very special place within the Guildford community.

Guildford Shakespeare Company's education department last year engaged with over 4,900 individuals, 59% of whom were children from under-privileged schools, through specifically created education projects that were delivered 'free to access'. The charity's Brave New World programme continues to promote social inclusion with an inter-generational drama project at the Queen Elizabeth Care Home (which has seen participants' well-being increase by 300%), whilst a brand-new mental health programme for teenagers and their families will launch next month.

Having grown from just two actor-managers, GSC now employs seven full-time staff, and in 2018 created 129 jobs for artists and education facilitators. An additional 22 work experiences were made available, including opportunities for clients at Guildford's homeless charity Riverside.

The Co-Founders added: "In a climate where there is so much uncertainty it has never been more important for the arts and theatre to lead the way in providing hope and cohesion for our society. The more opportunities that we create, the more we learn and the tapestry of our community becomes richer, brighter and fuller, and everyone benefits. The establishment of a long-term home for GSC will ensure that we can continue to deliver life-changing educational programmes and unique theatre experiences for everyone."

Published on Friday 15 March.