Opinion: Key Theatre has major role in delivering Peterborough’s cultural strategy

With speculation over the future of the city’s much-loved Key Theatre, the venue’s contribution to Peterborough’s music scene over the past 40 years is undeniable (write Peterborough Music Hub).

Sunday, 26th December 2021, 7:37 am
Exterior of Key Theatre restaurant EMN-180417-152328009 EMN-180417-152328009
Exterior of Key Theatre restaurant EMN-180417-152328009 EMN-180417-152328009

Over those years, music has been a major part of the programme. Despite its limited capacity, the Key has hosted a vast selection of popular musical artists - solo singers and performers, musical theatre shows, orchestras, bands and musicians of many genres, tastes and backgrounds from across the globe.

The venue’s warm, intimate and timeless auditorium has undoubtedly been a major factor in presenting the breadth of shows and events that have entertained, inspired and enriched the lives of regional audiences over the decades.

With the easing of restrictions earlier this year, it has been clear that audiences have been anxious to reconnect with live events and shared experiences.

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Throughout the pandemic creativity and the arts have sustained the nation with many people reaching an overwhelming consensus acknowledging the importance of creative stimulus (and especially music) to our health and well-being.

Once again the Key Theatre resumed its special part in contributing to the local cultural offer, joining with the city’s other larger venues to present a joyous schedule of live shows.

The Key’s capacity and scale has always supported Peterborough’s ability to introduce, nurture and develop creative skills in all disciplines as part of a creative landscape that will be essential to the city’s ambitions to become a future City of Culture.

Indeed, the Key’s commercial challenges have provided the city with a valuable professional community venue, well placed to deliver a programme of high quality, intimate events that cater for a wide selection of tastes, ticket prices, opportunities for new work and engagement with local organisations and groups.

In particular the venue’s work with and for young people has created an enormous legacy and the wider civic role of the Key cannot be overstated.

All these qualities will be hugely important in developing Peterborough’s connection to the wider cultural sector and opportunities for future external funding.

The Key Theatre will have a unique part to play in these developments and the successful delivery of the city’s Cultural Strategy in the years ahead.

The subsidy provided to the Key Theatre should be seen as a valuable investment in the cultural heritage of the city and in the creative development of performers and audiences since the doors opened in 1973.

Built by the perseverance of an ambitious group of local people, the current theatre was always seen as phase one of a much larger riverside venue.

The addition of the Key studio a decade ago, was another part of that vision, providing another space to grow and develop new audiences and new work.

As the ongoing pressures on local government finances continue, Peterborough residents will need to revisit the spirit of 1973 over the coming months and, with renewed purpose, work together to support the next chapter of the Key Theatre’s story.

With a production of Twelfth Night marking the Key’s first performance, creative artists, stakeholders, partners and audiences must firmly take up their parts to ensure that, whatever the future holds, music does indeed “play on” at the Key Theatre for many years to come. For the latest news and information on the theatre visit www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk