It's the Palace Theatre's 100th birthday in 2020 and we're celebrating our decades-long history as the hub of entertainment in Newark throughout the year.
100 Years of History
On Monday 5th July 1920, this stunning venue opened its doors as a picture house built by local entrepreneur Emily Blagg, who, in a time when the suffragettes were fighting for female independence, had managed to carve out a successful career in property development. Having opened Newark's first cinema, the Kinema on Baldertongate, in 1913 as well as building The Park and Lime Grove, she made the decision to expand on her small empire and knocked down the Chauntry House to create her vision of the perfect art deco theatre.
Its Neo-Byzantine style was exotic, upmarket and fashionable and from its first screening, a version of King Solomon's Mines, it quickly became a popular haunt for the residents of Newark. Blagg was a shrewd businesswoman and, although she opened the Palace as a cinema, she made sure to fit it out with a sizeable stage and orchestra pit to allow for the possibility that the town's appetite for film might wane. And sure enough, within the year a strong programme of live events was in place.
Since then, a slew of famous names have tread the boards at the Palace. Sir Donald Wolfit began his stage career here in 1921 and returned with Miss Marple herself, Margaret Rutherford, and John Clements a decade later. In 1927, prima ballerina Anna Pavlova graced the stage and in 1950 Cliff Richard had Newark rocking away within its walls.
The theatre has given more than entertainment to the town over the years; its spectacular minarets proved the ideal lookout post for spotting fires during the Second World War.
Since then, the Palace has gone through many changes but has survived threats of closure thanks to the people of Newark, who've rallied on several occasions to save it. While the cinema is no more, the Theatre continues the tradition of hosting fantastic entertainment and bringing famous names to the town, which in recent years have included Jason Manford, Jimmy Carr, Joan Armatrading, Jason Donovan and more.
Our Past, Your Future Fund
To honour a century of being centre stage in Newark and to thank the local community for their lasting support, we are delighted to have launched a brand new legacy scheme: The Our Past, Your Future Fund. Hoping to give back to the fantastic local community, the fund's aim is to encourage and nurture Newark's young talent by offering scholarships and funding to people who aspire to careers in the arts. Applications are due to open in the autumn.
We will be raising money for the fund through a programme of special events including a fabulous community gala in July. Thanks to the kind support of Tallents Solicitors, we are able to commit all proceeds from this event to the fund.
Sponsor A Seat
As part of our centenary year and fundraising for the Our Past, Your Future Fund, we're delighted to have launched a new Sponsor A Seat initiative. This gives our theatre visitors the chance to make their mark on this stunning theatre's historic story as well as the opportunity to contribute to the Our Past, Your Future Fund. The perfect present for a theatre fan or special treat for yourself, sponsors will receive a sponsorship pack including a certificate and complimentary Palace Membership for the duration of your sponsorship.
Prices to Sponsor A Seat are as follows:
3 Year Sponsorship £150
5 Year Sponsorship £225
10 Year Sponsorship £400
Please contact Box Office on 01636 655755 or in person for more details.
Open Memory Morning
Saturday 28th March, 10am-12pm
As part of our 100th birthday celebrations, we are asking local residents to share their memories and memorabilia from throughout the Palace's history. On Saturday 28th March, we are holding an Open Memory Morning, to which members of the public are invited to bring their photos, brochures, memorabilia and more about the Theatre and its founder, Emily Blagg. Our team will be on hand from 10am-12pm making a record of items and taking a register of people who have interesting stories and memories to share orally, and will arrange times to make recordings or videos.
We are particularly seeking memories from the years between 1920 and 1986 as few records have been preserved in our collection from this time. Contributions from the public will add to a fascinating exhibition about the Palace's history, planned to open on our stage this September. The free exhibition, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will celebrate the Theatre being centre stage in Newark for 100 years and will tie in with the nationwide Heritage Open Days scheme.