Royal Exchange gifted GBP1 to build pop-up venue

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre (RX) has been gifted GBP1m (€1.1m) by The Oglesby Charitable Trust to fund a new pop-up venue.

The Den will be part of the UK theatre’s newest strand of work “Local Exchange”, an initiative exploring the relationship between people, places and artists and how these links can shape future work.

Michael Oglesby and Kate Vokes, trustees of the Oglesby Charitable Trust, said: “Philanthropic gifts can often provide the space to innovate and take risks, we have found that this results in some truly groundbreaking projects with real and lasting impact. The Den felt like a groundbreaking design – a truly unique theatre space that would respond to the needs of the residents using it.”

Designed by Haworth Tompkins architects the venue will be a low-carbon, super-lightweight 180-seat portable auditorium that is capable of being built and dismantled by its audience. The idea is for The Den to create opportunities for creativity – with minimum environmental impact. Each Den residency will last for three years, during which time the hosts are expected to respond to the cultural ambitions of specific communities.

“Local Exchange is an ambitious new strand of our programme here at the Exchange and The Den is an exciting and fundamental aspect of this work,” said Steve Freeman, executive director of the RX. “We hope that Local Exchange creates the pace for a conversation with the people of Greater Manchester about what the future of theatre looks like for us all. That it will provide the building-blocks to reimagine the relationship between the places we make our work and the artists and people we make it with and for.”

The Den will make its first appearance in Tameside, UK, in August at Stalybridge Civic Hall.