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Georgian Theatre in Stockton may be in line for improvements
A HISTORIC theatre, once threatened with demolition, is celebrating 20 years as one of the region's hotbeds for new music and could be treated to a facelift.
Famous bands including the Arctic Monkeys and The Charlatans have graced the same stage as home-grown talent at the Georgian Theatre in Stockton, which claims to be the oldest surviving theatre in the country.
The festivities started with performances by the Chapman Family, Beak and Bisons.
Built in 1766 as a touring house on the northern circuit, the theatre fell into disrepair during the 19th century and was even a sweet factory until the late 1950s.
It was bought by Stockton Borough Council before it was reopened as a community venue.
Tees Music Alliance (TMA), a not-for-profit organisation, launched to champion the thriving music scene on Teesside, moved in as tenants in 1993.
Paul Burns, TMA director, thought the venue, in Green Dragon Yard, had acted as a beacon for musicians eager to perform, and encouraged pubs to host live music.
"There were lots of bands then that wanted to play gigs, but there was nowhere that would touch local music with a bargepole other than the Dovecot Arts Centre. However, it had a long waiting list, so we decided we needed our own venue, " he said. "But we definitely didn't think we would still be here 20 years later."
Future plans include remodelling the theatre.
"Everything is there, but not in the right order. The thing that stops us getting more people in is the lack of toilets, " Mr Burns explained. "Whatever changes happen, we would not want to lose the intimate nature."
The appetite for live music has led TMA to create Stockton Calling, a one-day festival being held on Saturday, March 30, which will see more than 50 bands play across seven venues, including the Georgian Theatre.
It also hosts the popular summer Stockton Weekender festival which attracts thousands of revellers and this year is being headlined by Primal Scream and The Proclaimers, on July 27 and 28.