"The Acorn, Penzance’s theatre, is dedicated to the performing arts – theatre, comedy, music and dance. As both a touring venue and a performance space for local artists, it is a vibrant, creative and life-enhancing centre for all of West Cornwall. Background
The Acorn has been a place for creativity in the performing arts since 1969, when it was set up in a converted Wesleyan Chapel in Parade Street, in the centre of Penzance. Over the years its two auditoria have hosted a huge variety of acts, groups and projects, including theatre, dance, music, youth, community engagement, comedy, children’s theatre, films and choirs.
Since its inception The Acorn has had the status of a charity, The Acorn Trust. In recent years it has been run as a professionally staffed theatre and arts centre with an arts development remit. However, in May 2010 the Trustees, acting on advice from the staff and stakeholders, agreed that this model was not viable without a significant increase in funding. In the absence of an assurance that this increase would be forthcoming, in August 2010 the theatre closed and the staff were made redundant.
However, since March 2011 a reconstituted Board of Trustees, with financial support from Arts Council England and Cornwall Council, has set about bringing The Acorn back to life. We have been working on developing a clear artistic and operational vision for The Acorn, and details of this is contained in a Business Plan that was submitted in November 2011."
a main auditorium, which has a balcony with 53 fixed seats and a flexible stage and seating area, allowing seating for up to 150 people
a smaller downstairs auditorium with movable seating (maximum capacity 80 people) and adjoining bar.
The building also incorporates a foyer area, toilets, a small office, dressing room and recording room and a downstairs storage area. It has wheelchair access (balcony not fully accessible) via the side of the building into the main auditorium, and there is a lift giving access to the lower level. There is also an adapted toilet, and the building is equipped with a hearing loop.
There are some limitations on the use of the building. It is impossible to soundproof it, and as it is surrounded by houses and flats there is a limit on the licensable operating hours. Additionally it is not practical to hire out both floors at the same time for different events because noise carries between the floors. However, the building has many positive features that make it an ideal venue for small scale performance. It has level access, making for an easy get-in for visiting companies, and because it has high ceilings it is able to accommodate tall sets.
We are currently able to meet most technical requirements, and the flexibility of the space enables us to adapt it to meet a wide range of companies’ space requirements. For events that attract smaller audiences the balcony can be closed, making for a more intimate experience for both the audience and performers. Both auditoria have good acoustics, making them ideal venues for music, theatre and the spoken word.
The Acorn has a quirky charm that makes it an attractive place to hire for private parties and lends itself to celebrations.