Creating A Scene – capital projects for New Wolsey Theatre

Client – New Wolsey Theatre

Project/Role – Capital Projects Director

Creating a Scene is an ambitious £3 million capital project which will see the transformation of Theatre Square and the refurbishment of New Wolsey Theatre itself. The project continues despite the challenges of Covid19, with New Wolsey 2 due to open mid September and the revamped New Wolsey Theatre in November 2020.

About Creating A Scene

Photo impression of New Wolsey 2 (c) WGPA Architects

The New Wolsey has for many years now sat on a much loved but largely declining site. It’s a site full of its own history and civic pride – the former home to the Council, Police and Magistrate Courts. It’s a key gateway into the town for many.

Together with developer Charterhouse, and architects WGPA New Wolsey are building a new vision for this site.

Whilst the overall vision will take 5 to 10 years to fully realise we are mid way through what you might call the first phase (Creating A Scene). These ciritcal first steps are vital in unlocking the full vision for the whole site.

NW2 as of August 2020, photos courtesy of Waind Gohill Potter

Creating A Scene includes:

-the creation and fit out of a brand new participation facility called NW2

-the development of a new public space called Theatre Square -reimagined, with a new outdoor performance space at its heart.

-the refurbishment of the existing New Wolsey Theatre building – a brand new front of house experience, more comfortable seats – a world class welcome to match the world class art on our stages.

New Wolsey 2 – photo credit Sue Lawther Brown / New Wolsey Theatre

Overall this phase will enable NWT to improve the quality of both its existing performance and front of house spaces, as well as develop a suite of new education, participation and rehearsal spaces, and in so doing ensure it becomes a unified, vibrant cultural gateway to the town and even more of a hub for the many diverse communities of Ipswich.

Creating A Scene will help us to connect communities with a shared vision for a safe and fully accessible space that belongs to the whole community, a home-from- home, somewhere to meet friends, take part in an activity and enjoy the highest quality theatre as part of an audience. From family-focussed work for parents and toddlers, to story-telling programmes for young refugees, Creating a Scene will provide more immersive and extensive opportunities for the communities of Ipswich and wider Suffolk to come together.

Work developed with such groups in NW2 will flow across Theatre Square to NWT’s main house, foyer and other spaces, ensuring engagement with the widest possible audience. Through a combination of new and existing activity NW2 will catalyse new collaborations with community partners and blur the edges between our participation and performance spaces to create a theatre for Ipswich and Suffolk that is truly without barriers and a community resource that means NWT is more accessible than ever before.

Recent Press Stories and Announcements:-

East Anglian Daily Times Huge grants help boost arts venues under lockdown (LEP award of £225,000)

East Anglian Daily Times New Wolsey Theatre is changing the face of Ipswich – first look at a £2.8m redevelopment

East Anglian Daily Times Boost for town as New Wolsey starts work on arts gateway

Architects Journal WG+P gets go-ahead for gold-roofed Ipswich pavilion

Building Design Curtain up on Ipswich theatre project

East Anglian Daily Times Which Ipswich theatre companies have bagged close to £1 million to boost facilties? (Arts Council award of £395k)


The £3million funding package is underpinned by a £2.1 million investment in Theatre Square by the developers Charterhouse. The whole project is driven by a unique partnership between Charterhouse and New Wolsey – a case study in collaborative working – focused on a common aim to rejuvenate a much loved public space.

Together with the hub I’ve been working to secure additional funds for the project. We continue working to secure the final £85k required to fully fund the project following Covid19 cost increases. Confirmed awards to date include:-

Arts Council England, small scale capital: £395,000

Local Enterprise Partnership, Growing Places fund £225,000

Ipswich Borough Council £5,000

Wolfson Foundation £70,000

Garfield Weston Foundation £40,000

We are extremely grateful to all our funders who continue to be central to the projects success.

The team

The New Wolsey team

Architect Phil Waind of WGPA

Interior Designs Reb Capper of Steamboat Creative

QS / Contracts Manager Paul Coleman of Daniel Connal Partnership

Principle Contractor (NW2) Gipping Construction

Fundraising consultants the hub