Minerva Arts: Rural and Urban- what’s next?

Friday 23 March 2018

Almost nine years later (where does the time go?) and we have been funded by a whole range of bodies, run Arts Award at all levels and developed great partnerships. But by far the biggest moment for us came in 2011 when we were handed the reins of the former Chester Gateway Youth Theatre. Since then we have grown from one small group to four groups across Cheshire West. This year it is likely that this will continue to grow.

Things have changed in Chester, however. Ten years after the Gateway closed, in May 2017 our new theatre, Storyhouse, opened. This was a huge moment, not just locally but on a national level. With funding the way that it has been over recent times, for both the Arts Council and a local council to invest in brand new cultural stock is heartening indeed. The building has been a huge success so far, providing a centralised cultural offer that is improving the wellbeing and life of the city and beyond.

This is a crucial moment for us at Minerva. Since the run up to the opening of the theatre we have seen our Youth Theatre numbers in Chester drop by over half. As much as we don’t want to admit it, competition is a thing! Especially in a small city such as Chester which consistently punches above its weight. So we have shifted the business plan. Rolling with the punches is the name of the game and we have re-focussed our resources in the last six months to focus on the area which has seen the most success over recent years, our rural work. Several successful funded projects and a thriving village Youth Theatre in Malpas have given us all the information we need for us to know that the direction of travel is rural. Thus far we have consulted on expanding our Malpas Youth Theatre to two groups (which we are awaiting funding for), started a new group in Tarvin with some Holiday provision initially, turning into a weekly group from May and begun the process of working with partners in Frodsham to build some provision over there. There’s plenty more to come and we are positive about our new mission to bring quality provision to the rural doorsteps. Wish us luck!