Theatre gets facelift in pursuit of youth

Fears Southborough culture hub could be scaled down

The Assembly Hall Theatre has reopened following a £1.5m refurbishment, which could help attract ‘a completely different demographic to the venue’.

Bosses hope a new bar area, upgraded stage and sound equipment and an increase in standing capacity will bring in more acts attractive to a younger generation.


Theatre director Brian McAteer said: “We are starting to work with national touring promoters to plug more music, more bands for that demographic going forward, kicking off in December with local punk band Slaves.

“It’s something we’re very excited about. There’s an outside possibility we might actually become trendy.

“I’m not quite sure that’s something we can handle given the average age of our team is somewhere north of 40!”

Other changes to the venue include the addition of a Perk and Pearl coffee bar, a soft play area and improved seating.

The venue is trying to ensure its food is locally sourced where possible, with Taywell supplying the icecream and beverages provided by Owlets and Chapel Down Winery.

Equally important but less visible, work has been done behind the scenes to bring equipment and safety systems up to date and fit for purpose and new stage lifts will be installed.

But Mr McAteer admitted the project was ‘all about keeping the doors open’ until Tunbridge Wells has a bigger and better theatre.

He said: “We all hope there will be a new all-singing, all-dancing venue somewhere in the town.”


Councillor Jane March, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council portfolio holder for tourism and leisure, said: ‘The theatre has had a facelift and I am very happy with the results.

“It is both welcoming and sophisticated which I hope audiences will agree is a great improvement. I am also delighted we’ve used local firms like Style My Home for the project and that we will continue the local theme in the new bar.”

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