The Embassy Theatre in Skegness is benefitting from £1.3M Towns Fund investment which will see the theatre undergo a redevelopment that reflects the Scandinavian culture house concept, becoming a community and social hub with culture at its heart. Jens Frimman, Director of Helsingør Teater and the Artistic Director of Skegness’ SO-Festival is working on the redevelopment and explains more about the culture house concept.
A culture house is essentially an open space where you can do many different things, a place where people can be inspired by different ideas. It is frequently the case that people will go along to a culture house to take part in one activity, and will find themselves curious about something else taking place there.
Culture houses have a long history in Denmark, and their roots are in public libraries – open, and accepting places where people could go to hang out. In fact, libraries still play a part in many culture houses today.
Culture houses have evolved and widened roles and in Denmark, and today they vary in size and location; for example, you often find smaller culture houses on housing estates. Through culture houses, a lot of people are able to get involved in culture – people aren’t excluded. And, culture houses are good for areas because as well as meaning more people can access cultural activities, these spaces bring investment into communities.
There are some things that are key to the success of culture houses. It’s important to reach out to different people, and find varied ways of appealing to visitors. It is also vital to inform and educate people about the culture house, and of course, it is crucial to make sure that there are open and free opportunities to use the culture house.
The Embassy Theatre is set to be redeveloped to reflect the culture house model, building on the venue’s proud history, and offering new and additional uses for people to enjoy. For example, in the future, community groups might host activities, or there could be activities for parents and children. Overall, the culture house approach will allow more people to interact with the theatre. And, the transformation of Embassy Theatre will also provide a bridge between SO Festival and the theatre.
The new model for the Embassy Theatre will also bring greater collaboration with other cultural and community organisations so that together we can offer more for Skegness. We’re really keen to speak to local and community organisations about ways we can link up in the future, and if anyone would like to speak to us about working together please email us at Connected.Coast@e-lindsey.gov.uk
In taking a culture house approach, there is huge potential for the Embassy Theatre to offer more and be open for everyone to access culture. I look forward to seeing the exciting progress.
By Jens Frimann