Located in Somerset's county town of Taunton, we offer a varied programme of events for all ages including drama, dance, comedy, music, workshops, exhibitions and poetry. We attract companies and artists such as Shakespeare's Globe On Tour, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company, Simon Callow, Lee Evans, Pam Ayres, Show Of Hands and Nikolai Demidenko. As well as receiving touring productions, each year we produce a number of shows in-house including our annual Christmas show. Our gallery presents a programme of exhibitions featuring work from both local and international artists.
Our mission is to be a creative hub for the region, continually offering high quality experiences which entertain, stimulate, involve and inspire the many diverse communities we serve.
We also provide an oasis for artists and creatives to meet and engage with the community through sharing of work, workshops, mentoring and participatory events. At the heart of what we do is the promotion of culture and the understanding of how it can enhance and enrich people's lives.
We are a registered charity no. 801077.
View our Spring 2013 brochure
Past, Present and Future
On 28 March 1977, The Brewhouse Theatre & Arts Centre opened with its first professional performance: Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquest, starring a young actor called David Jason. It was after 10 years of planning, building up hopes, having hopes shattered, general frustration, copious fundraising and an abundance of perseverance from a group of people dedicated to bringing the arts to Taunton, that this became a reality.
Before The Brewhouse was built, there was a noticeable lack of performance venues in the county town, the last theatre giving in to popular demand and becoming a full-time cinema by the 1920s. After the Second World War, members of the local amateur dramatic groups formed what became The Taunton Area Arts Federation, an organisation devoted to expanding the arts in Taunton and lobbying for a dedicated new theatre. However, it wasn't until 1967 and after the government's publication of a white paper entitled A Policy for the Arts, that the group made any headway and that Somerset County Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council agreed on a joint proposal for a theatre.
The original plans for the Taunton Civic Theatre were for a much larger theatre than The Brewhouse, complete with fly tower and the most modern lighting. However, when it was revealed that it would cost a breathtaking £225,640, the proposal came under vigorous criticism from the councillors and the mayor. It was deemed to be the wrong theatre in the wrong place, at the wrong time and, ultimately, at the wrong cost.
What was needed was a complete re-appraisal and a totally new outlook on fundraising, and this was exactly what the new Taunton Theatre Trust, formed in 1972, aimed to do. They wanted to raise sufficient funds without reliance on local authorities, though it was hoped that some support from these would be forthcoming if the new scheme appeared viable. A site was also needed, and it was decided in the end that the theatre should be built in Coal Orchard, an area thus named as it used to be an orchard owned by a coal merchant. For a while The Orchard was a potential name for the theatre, but it was eventually an old Georgian house which provided the basis for the name. The Old Brewery House was right in the centre of Coal Orchard, more or less where the proposed theatre was going to be, and it was with great annoyance that the architects found they were unable to demolish this decrepit house as it was a listed building. Therefore, they had to work with the building, restoring it and incorporating it into the theatre design, turning the upstairs into offices and the downstairs into the restaurant.
So, in the end it was a very different theatre to the one originally planned that was eventually built in 1976, but it's a theatre that's still going strong to this day.
As for the future, The Brewhouse is continuing to work with Project Taunton, the scheme to update and modernise the whole town in a way which will be beneficial and sustainable for generations to come and which should put Taunton on the map as a truly vibrant and exemplary West Country town. A feasibility study commissioned by Taunton Deane Borough Council with funding from Project Taunton, and carried out by ArtsService recommends we stay on the current site and create a 600 - 750 seater auditorium, a larger gallery space and arthouse cinema with enhanced bar and catering provision. The hope is that the theatre will become the heart of a new Coal Orchard - Taunton's cultural quarter.
In the spirit of the people of Taunton 30 years ago, who fought so hard to improve their theatre facilities, we at The Brewhouse hope you will continue to support us through this period of change so that our visions as before, can become a reality.