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Regal Entertainments Become New Owners Of St Helens Theatre Royal

THE new owner of St Helens Theatre Royal has been announced as Regal Entertainments Ltd. Regal Entertainments has managed the day to day running of the Corporation Street venue for 22 years, but has now taken over ownership from the Theatre Royal Charitable Trust for an undisclosed fee. The structure will remain the same. The exciting announcement came ahead of World Theatre Day, that took place on Saturday, 27 March 2021.

Regal Entertainments is led by theatrical powerhouse mother and daughter duo, Creative Director Jane Joseph and Director and Theatre General Manager Chantelle Nolan. They took over tenancy of the popular St Helens playhouse in 1999, working in partnership with the Theatre Royal Charitable Trust which had owned the venue freehold since 1986 until the sale.

For more than 2 decades, Jane and Chantelle have strengthened and continued to build the Theatre's professional reputation and standing within the industry, going on to attract household names and national touring shows each season. They also produce all the venue's in house productions, which includes 3 seasonal pantos directed by Chantelle and a stage play each year.

The Theatre purchase now means that Regal Entertainments is now entirely responsible for the building, interior and exterior. The Theatre Royal Charitable Trust will remain active and continue to fundraise for the building and develop arts in the community.

St Helens Theatre Royal was designed by celebrated Theatre architect Frank Matcham and opened its doors in 1901, replacing the Theatre Royal and Opera House which had stood on the same site until it was destroyed by fire in 1899. In 1964, the current Theatre was gutted and extensively remodelled and modernised, with the addition of a glass façade.

Like all Theatres nationwide, St Helens Theatre Royal has been hit hard by the Covid19 Pandemic and subsequent Lockdowns.

As part of the venue's response to the Pandemic, Regal Entertainments launched a new Theatre annual membership scheme in July 2020. By becoming a member of the St Helens Royal Family, patrons can enjoy an exclusive range of customer benefits. This has provided a new and much needed income stream during the Lockdown.

As a result of the 3 national Lockdowns, Regal Entertainments has also taken a number of its popular pantomimes online to ensure families don't miss out and can enjoy the shows from the safety of their own homes.

Creative Director Jane Joseph commented:- "St Helens Theatre Royal is a very special place for the Regal Entertainments team, myself, Chantelle, and our families. It's a hub of colour, singing, laughter and life, and it holds a very dear place in our hearts. We've successfully steered the Theatre on a path of adventure and rediscovery for the past 22 years and we're extremely excited for this new chapter. We'd like to thank the Theatre Royal Charitable Trust and Friends of the Theatre for their ongoing support and look forward to everything we can achieve together in the future."

Director and Theatre General Manager Chantelle Nolan added:- "We are delighted to become the new owners of St Helens Theatre Royal. During our time managing the Theatre we have always reinvested any profits back into the venue, and this will remain the case. The Pandemic has proved extremely challenging, but we've still managed to find positives by launching our new Theatre Royal Family annual membership scheme and streaming our much loved pantomimes online, this has been extremely important in keeping the St Helens Theatre Royal name and magical memories created at the forefront of people's minds when it comes to returning to live Theatre."

Nick Wilding, Chair of the Theatre Royal Charitable Trust, continued:- "Regal Entertainments has efficiently run the Theatre for more than 20 years. Jane and Chantelle understand what audiences want and provide an excellent programme of entertainment so we're delighted with the news. We're also keen to reassure everybody that the charity will continue, and it's a wonderful opportunity for us to focus on fulfilling some of our other charitable aims and objectives. The Trust is confident that the wonderful Victorian St Helens Theatre Royal, a Frank Matcham Theatre and:- 'a precious old lady in the town,' is very much in safe hands."

Enid Pennington, Chair of the Friends of the Theatre Royal, added:- "We send our very best wishes to Jane, Chantelle and the team on their new venture. We are looking forward to supporting them in their continued efforts to make St Helens Theatre Royal a welcoming place of entertainment."

In October, St Helens Theatre Royal was successful in its bid for funds from the Government's Covid19 Culture Recovery Fund, administered by Arts Council England. The funding will support the venue in adapting to provide socially distanced performances and improving facilities at the venue.

Follow St Helens Theatre Royal on social media channels like Facebook.

New mural for Liverpool's Chinatown

A brand new mural which celebrates Liverpool's Chinese community is taking pride of place in the City Centre.

LOCATED in Chinatown's Great George's Square, Liverpool, is a new 50 metre wide and 2 metre high spray painted artwork is a striking red, yellow and blue mural, featuring an ox to mark the lunar New Year. The ox is a symbol of hope for communities and signifies prosperity and good fortune for all. The theme of the piece is 'Reunion' which not only looks to a future when everyone can be together again, but also reflects on the prejudice the community has experienced following the Covid19 Pandemic.

Working in partnership with local Chinese community groups, Writing on the Wall and Pagoda Arts facilitated workshops to create the final design. European funding from CreArt, enabled French artists:- Alexis Le Pasteur and Lise Le Bonniec to be virtually involved in the development of the design.

Zap Graffiti; a popular organisation which works with communities across the UK in creating positive graffiti murals, has worked with young people to bring the design to life and the results will be officially unveiled by the community on Monday, 29 March 2021.

Culture Liverpool has supported the new artwork which was produced with Covid safe guidelines in place.

Acting Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Wendy Simon, said:- "Not only will this be a welcome, eye catching addition to Liverpool's Chinatown, it will also draw attention to the long heritage of the Chinese community in the City. It's a real celebration of their accomplishments and contributions to the Region's cultural scene, and at the same time it is a display of solidarity with the Chinese community after what has been a difficult time for many."

Chief Executive of Pagoda Arts, Zi Lan, added:– "The Chinese community are excited to showcase their roots and look forward to seeing the finished artwork. We are proud of our heritage and being accepted as part of Liverpool culture."

Co-Director of Writing on the Wall, Madeline Heneghan, commented that:- "It's been a pleasure to work with the Chinese community on this international collaboration. Through the aid of digital technologies, creative ideas have been shared across borders and the result is stunning. We have been able to bring all ages together in creative activities, developing skills and creating partnerships and networks that will have an enduring legacy."

Artist, Alexis Le Pasteur, concluded:- "For our 1st project abroad it was an honour to work with the Chinese community. In these harsh times we feel cohesion is what matters most. It was really interesting to work and share with the community in order to tell their story and show that they belong in Liverpool. We also liked to work with a British artist as we realised even though we are from different countries we share the same values."


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