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Inside Politics: Let's put the arts in Gloucester on the map

By The Citizen  |  Posted: October 31, 2013

The Olympus Theatre.

The Olympus Theatre.

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EXCITING plans to open the doors at what will be Gloucester's only professional theatre emerged this week.

The Olympus Theatre, in Barton Street, could transform that whole area into the Gloucester Arts Quarter.

What a fabulous idea.

There are 90 theatre companies in Gloucestershire all busy keeping the county's arts scene alive.

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Last month we saw the launch of the Strike A Light Festival, which primarily used Blackfriars Priory to host professional theatre.

The Olympus looks set to be home of a writers' lab for budding playwrights and it is commissioning a new play about Henry III which is to be performed in London.

I, too, when not writing for the pages of the Citizen, write for musical theatre. My new musical, Revolution, is being written in collaboration with composer Nicholas Keyworth right here in Gloucester. It has already been performed to five-star critical acclaim in Edinburgh and will soon be showcased in the West End.

There is a burgeoning arts scene here, whether it be theatre, music or visual arts. Not only that but the arts are helping to put Gloucester on the map.

Yet the great news about the revival of the Olympus Theatre was also tinged with a little sadness and frustration.

Sadness that there were once 10 incredible entertainment venues in Gloucester for all your theatrical desires.

All but two are gone – either demolished or converted.

The Palace Theatre, on Westgate Street, was a stunning 800-seat horseshoe-shaped venue that would the Everyman in Cheltenham. Charles Dickens even read extracts from his work on that stage. It is now Poundland.

We will never get these places back but what we can do is support those trying to reawaken the Olympus and other worthy projects.

Unfortunately mention Gloucester City Council to Phil McCormick and Saqib Rasul, the masterminds behind the project, and they are filled with frustration.

They told me that promised funding for previous arts projects had been pulled and that the council dragged its heels over their planning application to get lift-off at the theatre project.

If that was the case then what a shame.

Projects like this should be given as much support as possible.

The pair have put it behind them and are looking to a bright and positive future – let's all get behind them.

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  • MrGarnet  |  October 31 2013, 10:50PM

    There is no interest for anyone with common sense to venture into Barton St at night. Not fookin rocket science is it.

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