After ten years in a mushroom shed, we moved to new premises on Brook Road Industrial Estate in Rayleigh.
The building had been unused for some time but when the founder of Equal People and Director of MTC, Penni Bubb, visited the empty shell the potential was immediately obvious, and the Trustees began exploring the potential of leasing the premises. After much work and little sleep everything fell into place and we secretly planned to announce the news of securing the new building during the opening night of “Celebrate!” – MTC’s 10th anniversary show.
Equal People supporters from near and far joined us for a special VIP reception, but the nature of the announcement had to be changed when, just a few days before the show, we learnt that the previous owner was bankrupt. The perfect building was no longer available to us unless we could buy it outright: something we simply wren’t in a position to do.
Someone offered to buy the premises that night, to help renovate what really was an empty shell, and to lease them to Equal People Performing Arts. As the builders moved in, the pigeons moved out, and a few months later – December 2015 – Equal People moved in to 29 Brook Road. Mushroom Theatre Company came with us, and are the primary provider of classes, but the building is also available for hire by other local groups.
We learnt a lot in the process, but most importantly we saw time and time again just how much Equal People Performing Arts meant to people, and never ceased to be amazed by the love and generosity of so many. We have also since welcomed Little Theatre Company as long-term residents to our Studios.
Our initial plan was to lease the front half of the premises only, creating three fully-accessible multi-purpose studios. Instead, we now also have use of the rear two-storey building which is currently used for storage by ourselves and our two resident organisations. We opened with 2 fully-furbished studios, as well as office space, a reception area, kitchen and two wheelchair-accessible toilets. We have yet to complete Studio 3, to the rear of the main building, and the rear corridor space. One day we’ll redevelop the rear building too.
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