“Polka is much more than a leading children’s theatre, it is a complete experience designed with children in mind. We have an amazing, chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity to redevelop Polka as a unique place of inspiration for children, artists and our community. Please support FUTURE POLKA and help us inspire future generations. Thank you,” said Peter Glanville, Artist Director & Joint CEO.
First opened in 1979, pioneering Polka as the first theatre in the UK dedicated exclusively to children, the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon has inspired and entertained over 3.5 million visitors, establishing an international reputation for setting new standards in children’s theatre. Now, in their 41st year, the theatre has the opportunity to re-imagine this unique space by improving facilities for young audiences and their families for generations to come.
Speaking to PREMIER CONSTRUCTION MAGAZINE about the project, Lynette Shanbury, Executive Director at Polka, said: “The idea for the redevelopment actually started about 15 years ago and that is when we first started talking to architects about the building. Polka is a building that has been very much loved and used so it was clear that it was in need of a refresh and a look at how it can re-service its community 40 years after opening.
“Just under 11 years ago we held a competition for architects to enter and propose a new development for Polka. Foster Wilson Architects were one of the architects who entered and they won so we have been working with them since 2009 to develop this plan.”
Those behind the Polka Theatre are re-imagining what a dedicated children’s theatre could and should be for young audiences and their families. Following years of consultation, FUTURE POLKA will be a vibrant hub for future generations at the heart of the community.
Highlights of FUTURE POLKA include:
- An extended Adventure Theatre with increased capacity for Early Years audiences.
- A centralised Creative Learning space offering an expanded programme of play-based activities.
- New multi-sensory garden.
- On site rehearsal studio.
- New toilet and baby change facilities.
- Designated Buggy Park.
- A newly expanded destination café.
- Improved outdoor play area.
- Redesigned indoor play area.
- Significantly improved accessibility.
- Broader range of hireable spaces.
The building closed temporarily on Monday 18th February 2019 with building work commencing in March 2019. The building works will take up to 18 months, reopening in autumn 2020.
Lynette said: “I think seeing the part of Polka that was our old Creative Learning Building but actually looked like an old scout hut, come down and knowing that something better is going in its place was a really fantastic moment. It was very clear it was not fit for purpose anymore and we could do so much better by the children we work with. It is really exciting knowing that we are going to create something that will serve their needs so much better.
“For the community and children that come here this development is going to provide an even better experience than before. Polka has always been known for being one of the most welcoming and friendliest venues around and now we can match that with a level of facilities that are appropriate to match people’s expectations.”
For more information visit: https://polkatheatre.com/futurepolka/