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Gloucester’s Olympus Theatre outlines future plans as Simon Pegg is announced as patron

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Author: Thomas Hadfield, Posted: Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 16:00

Simon Pegg has starred in classic comedies 'Hot Fuzz' and 'Shaun of the Dead', as well as the 'Mission Impossible' and 'Star Trek' franchises Simon Pegg has starred in classic comedies 'Hot Fuzz' and 'Shaun of the Dead', as well as the 'Mission Impossible' and 'Star Trek' franchises

The Olympus Theatre in Gloucester has been a landmark in the city since the early 20th century and is now a Grade 2 listed building.

In recent years the theatre has fallen out of the limelight, but with refurbishment efforts underway, and Hollywood actor and Brockworth-born Simon Pegg now on board as patron, the future of the theatre looks bright.

Phil McCormick of Gloucester Arts Council (GAC), who are leading the renovation efforts, explains the history between the GAC and the Olympus, and what they have envisaged for the theatre.

He said: “I created Gloucester Arts Council having created and chaired a number of theatre companies, production companies and having staged a number of large productions for Gloucester Cathedral.

“We took on the Olympus in 2015 and ran it for 18 months before having to walk away in 2016 due to issues with the then lease holder.

“We have been working with the owners since 2016 to get access back into the theatre to finish what we started – the creation of a community pro-am theatre and arts centre for all, and to give Gloucester a working 450 seat venue so that the arts can grow and flourish in the city.”

The GAC now have the access they need and are hoping 2019 will be a big year for the theatre, with the announcement of Pegg as patron getting them off to a great start. Phil explains how the relationship came about.

“Simon’s mother Gill Pegg was a leading light in the Gloucester drama scene in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, and did in fact direct a production back in the day at the theatre,” he explained. “So it is a place that Simon knows from his youth’.

“Gill and I had crossed paths in the past, so I contacted her to see if she could act as a go between on our request to Simon which she was very happy to do even though she no longer lives in the county.”

Pegg is the second big name to pledge his support to the theatre, alongside Academy Award winning actor Jeremy Irons. Phil hopes that with both actors on board, the theatre will be able to appeal to audiences across generations.

Phil continued: “Our other patron Jeremy Irons has supported Gloucester Arts Council since its conception in 2012. He is known by the over 40s but not the youth so much!

“We felt we needed someone that the school, college and university students will relate to, particularly as he (Pegg) grew up in the city and is now so well-known worldwide.”

It’s clear that appealing to the youth of the city is important to Phil and the GAC, who are developing relationships with local schools and colleges to bring young people into theatre and the arts.

He continued: “We have already met with and discussed various elements with local colleges from apprenticeships to drama classes. We are also addressing the University of Gloucestershire faculty at the end of January and local schools at their next meeting in February.

“We want – we need – the theatre to be an arts hub. A facility used constantly by educational establishments and the full spectrum of the community.”

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