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image credit: Redwood Performing Arts Trust

The curtain will rise again at an Eastbourne theatre with its new operator promising to provide opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Redwood Performing Arts Trust will reopen the former Underground Theatre before Christmas after striking a deal with East Sussex County Council.

Renamed Grove Theatre and led by an experienced team, the venue will be brought back to life with a wide range of theatre productions, literary performances, short film screenings and interactive workshops.

Stefan Antoniuk, chief executive of the Redwood Performing Arts Trust, said: “We are delighted to be chosen to run the theatre. We look forward to presenting a programme of events that provide something for everyone, as well as opportunities for all to develop their skills in the performing and visual arts. We will work closely with the council and others to develop the Grove Theatre to these ends.”

Redwood Performing Arts Trust aims to present high quality theatre as well as opportunities for audiences and entry-level actors and creatives of all ages and backgrounds.

It also plans to work in partnership with education providers to develop audiences and offer mentoring opportunities with their team of professionals and look at ways to improve facilities at the theatre.

Cllr Bill Bentley, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for communities and safety, said: “We look forward to seeing the much-valued community space open to the public once more and are excited to see the detail of the opening production in December.

“We are delighted to have been able to offer this opportunity to Redwood Performing Arts Trust, a previous user of the theatre, and look forward to seeing its plans evolve and develop.

“The trust has already come forward with a programme of events including shows for the Christmas season, and we have no doubt they will make a success of the venture and place the venue at the very heart of the community.”

The trust was one of five applicants who took part in a rigorous and competitive process to select an organisation to take over the running of the theatre below Eastbourne’s library in Grove Road.

With the selected organisation unable to progress, the county council reviewed Redwood’s original proposal and, after seeking confirmation that it was still in a position to puts the proposal into action, has offered the opportunity to the trust which narrowly missed out last year.