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Curtain falls on ambition for Olympus Theatre in Barton

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Peforming arts enthusiasts in Gloucester are searching for a new home after the Olympus Theatre in Barton was unexpectedly closed despite a promising start.

The venue was leased out in May last year to a budding group of volunteers looking to transform the area into the cultural centre of Gloucester.

After securing funding and putting in a fair amount of elbow grease, the grade II-listed theatre reopened and began holding a number of shows, including a performance by the Royal Ballet School from London.

Various schools and the University of Gloucestershire were also making use of the facilities and live music performances were taking place as well.

Such was the success of the enterprise that even the Globe Theatre in London got in touch in November 2014 to put on its production of Romeo and Juliet at the venue.

However it was not to be, as three weeks before they got in touch, the arts project folded due to claimed differences between the volunteers and the venue's leaseholder Saqib Rasul. They left in November and no shows have been put on since although events can still be held at the venue.

It meant the arts team's plans of expanding and improving the historic site by introducing a new cafe, restaurant and bar as well as a new studio and dressing room facilities were also halted.

Heading the original project was Phil McCormick of the Gloucestershire Theatre Association which said it had proven the city needed a theatre venue.

"Regrettably due to issues with the current property ownership structure we felt we could not effectively operate so withdrew our management," he said.

"A lack of heating and its general condition made hosting events such as the Globe production impossible.

"The year we operated the theatre proved beyond doubt we can create the correct performance space within the city to attract world-class theatre and build our own local theatre community.

Such a shame.

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Yeah - saw that in the news too.

Remember when I saw Rick Wakeman there back in June 1987 with my girlfriend. My birthday present to us both.

Happy days!


Paul Harries

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