Friday marked the official re-opening of the newly refurbished Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells.
As part of a five year plan to look at Tunbridge Wells as a cultural destination for West Kent and East Sussex and to fulfil the cultural and creative needs of the local people and visitors to the area, a £1.5m refurbishment of the Assembly Hall Theatre was planned. This is to ensure it was fit for purpose, and that visitors find it a special and a comfortable place to visit.
Brian McAteer, Theatre Director and Cllr Jane Marsh, Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Leisure and Economic Development stressed at the opening how important the Assembly Hall Theatre is to the local community and economy. It is the hub of the evening activities in Tunbridge Wells and is important to local restaurants and bars in the vicinity who provide pre show dining and drinking often taking on extra staff during busy shows.
It has also been important to the Council that local people have had a say and been involved in the refurbishment and that was in evidence on Friday.
The auditorium looks plush with new comfortable seating with the circle seating upholstered by a company in Camden Road and a striking retro-styled carpet sourced and fitted by a company in the High Street.
There is a new retro theme throughout the refurbishment particularly in the bar area which has been designed by Caroline Parker from ‘Style My Home’ a company based in the Tunbridge Wells’ Pantiles area. The theatre bar now provides credit card, contactless and apple payment options and serves many items produced locally by companies such as Owlets , Kent Crisps, and Chapel Down
As well as the bar there is a stylish new coffee area with baristas trained by Perk and Pearl in Grove Hill Road.
There have also been upgrades to the lighting and sound systems at the Assembly Hall Theatre as well the standing capacity being increased, making the venue more attractive for incoming music and theatrical shows widening the demographic audience.
Another new audience to the Assembly Hall Theatre has been brought in by Pup’s Café, a soft play area for the under 5s and their carers now situated in the lower foyer bar area maximising the usage of the area during the daytime. The theatre has already seen an increase in ticket sales for children’s shows.
Works will continue when in January a new air-conditioning system and lift will be installed.
There is talk of a new larger theatre in Tunbridge Wells in the future, either on a new site or continuing to develop the current one however the decision will be only be made after detailed consultations but until then, users of the theatre have a more comfortable and more usable venue in the centre of town improved and designed by people from the borough of which they can be very proud.