Chester’s new £37m cultural centre, due to open at the end of this year, has a new name, and that name is “Storyhouse”.
Operator Chester Performs has also announced it plans to change the name of the company to reflect the building’s new identity, bringing the work of the much respected theatre and arts producer, the city’s new theatre, its central library and a new cinema, under one name.
The company’s Chief Executive, Andrew Bentley, is quick to point out the essential simplicity of the new name. “We’re over the moon at our new identity. It’s a straightforward expression of the journey we have been on as a company, and where, together, we are going in this amazing new building. In time the name will of course become synonymous with our work, and we will be selling tickets under the Storyhouse brand from 17th March”
Artistic Director, Alex Clifton, is even more effusive about the unifying concept underlining the name. “We will be running a building like no other. It needs a unique name to reflect its unique offer. This is a place to discover, make and share great stories. It’s a place to bring inspiring ideas to life. Storyhouse brilliantly captures and communicates the creative spirit of our integrated library, theatre and cinema”.
The news comes after an extensive search process led by Manchester brand agency True North, including a public consultation and extensive work with the centre’s stakeholders and partners, including Cheshire West and Chester Council, Arts Council England, and principal sponsor MBNA. Members of the public were invited to meet the brand designers and over 200 suggestions were submitted across two days of drop in sessions.
Lead partners Cheshire West and Chester Council, who are behind the project, investing over £30m in the scheme and also managing its construction, are very much behind the name:
Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Wellbeing, said: “I hope our residents will agree that Storyhouse is a wonderfully fitting name for a cultural centre that blends theatre, music, dance, literature and cinema.
“I have no doubt Storyhouse will itself prove a success story in the Council’s commitment to invest in inclusive leisure and culture to make our borough a great place to live and visit.”
Also making a significant investment in the project are MBNA. Ian O’Doherty, MBNA CEO, said:
‘Everyone at MBNA is excited to see what great progress the project is making. The new name is another important milestone towards delivering this world-class cultural centre for the borough. We’re delighted to be a part of the story.’
Councillor Stuart Parker, Opposition Spokesman for Culture, Leisure and Wellbeing, said “This is a brilliant name for what I believe will be a fantastic Cultural Centre for the City and wider borough. I am delighted to see the progress being made on developing the project and I can’t wait for its eventual opening at the end of the year.”
Storyhouse, which is the country’s largest regional arts project under construction, will be the first major arts project to combine the management of a major theatre and library under one organisation. The integration of library services with arts organisations is a key strategic priority for Arts Council England. Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said
“Storyhouse is a hugely ambitious project and we are delighted to be working alongside Cheshire West and Chester, Chester Performs and Chester University as key partners in its development. The announcement of its name represents a major milestone along the road to opening what will be a stunning, ground breaking venue for Cheshire.“
The new building incorporates a theatre which switches twice a year between an 800 seat proscenium space and 500 seat thrust “festival” stage, along with a 150 seat studio. Storyhouse will stage home produced productions for 50% of the year, with the theatre presenting the best of the country’s touring companies during the principal touring season. The company will run the building, according to Alex Clifton “as much as a visitor experience as a performing arts venue. Our public spaces form the backbone of the project and will change every day. They are the heart of our building and will be the busiest, most creative area of our work. We are on a mission to democratise culture, making open spaces which communities will programme and manage themselves. Theirs are the stories we want to tell”
To find out more visit www.storyhouse.com