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Public Consultation: The Future of the Plymouth Athenaeum

Thursday, February 10


Your chance to help create a vibrant, community-focused arts and culture centre.

The Plymouth Athenaeum is holding public consultation events in February about a proposed community project to re-open the theatre at the Plymouth Athenaeum and the wider regeneration of the building.

We wish to engage public support to enable the Plymouth Athenaeum building to become a sustainable, vibrant and community-focused arts and culture centre. With public support, the building can once again provide community access to performing arts and learning facilities in Plymouth city centre.

Our goal at the public consultation events is to gauge interest levels in supporting the project and to start a conversation about what a community-led partnership might look like.

The public consultation events will take place on:

Thursday, 10 February 12pm – 1.00pm
Thursday, 10 February 7.00pm – 8.00pm
Sunday, 13 February 2.00pm – 3.00pm


Opportunities to provide support would be open to individuals, groups, companies and businesses. These opportunities could include providing support by sharing expertise and skills or as partners, sponsors, donors or volunteers.

Consideration is also being given to exploring opportunities for community investment and community operation of the Athenaeum building.

If sufficient initial support for the project is forthcoming, we would aim to re-open the theatre during 2022.


The Plymouth Athenaeum building, which opened on 1st June 1961, is part of the city’s unique post-war architecture and was included within Plymouth City Council’s city centre conservation area in July 2019.

Designed by Walls & Pearn, the building is inspired by Festival of Britain architecture. Its façade is a delicate miniaturisation of the Royal Festival Hall. The Athenaeum was structurally innovative too, using a revolutionary steelspace frame to span the auditorium.

The condition of the building has deteriorated due to its enforced closure during the Covid-19 pandemic. We need the help of the Plymouth community to address both the short-term repair and maintenance issues and the longer-term vision to make it a sustainable and accessible arts and culture facility.


The Plymouth Athenaeum building contains a theatre of approximately 340 seats, which has hosted thousands of productions and events in theatre, music, dance, comedy, spoken word and more. Regional and national organisations to have used the theatre include Westward Television, the BBC and Rambert.

In recent years, it has played host to physical comedy theatre company, Le Navet Bete, Barbican Theatre Plymouth, Plymouth Comedy Club and local performing arts organisations including Plymkids Theatre Company, Geraldine Lamb Dance School, and Katie Su School of Dance.

A partnership with Barbican Theatre Plymouth for the operation of the Athenaeum theatre ended in March 2020 and performing arts activities have been suspended since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.


The Plymouth Athenaeum charitable society, which promotes learning in science, technology, literature and art, was founded in 1812 and the original Athenaeum building opened in 1819.

Scientist Charles Darwin is among the many distinguished figures to have been members of the Society.

Notable visitors to the modern Athenaeum include The Beatles, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Malcolm McDowell and Harry Secombe.


If you have any questions or would like to discuss the project please email us at info@plymouthathenaeum.co.uk

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