Phoenix Arts Centre

Phoenix Arts Centre in the 1980s

Phoenix Arts Centre in the 1980s

In 1963 it was identified that a venue was needed in Leicester for live performances. As a temporary measure, a 262-seat theatre called “Phoenix” was built in Upper Brown Street until a more permanent theatre could be established.

The former Phoenix Arts Centre now called Upper Brown Street, in 2013

The former Phoenix Arts Centre now called Upper Brown Street, in 2013

Its artistic philosophy was that it would be a theatre for the Leicester and Leicestershire community, presenting both “in-house” productions and touring the county with dance and small-scale theatre productions. At its height in the early 1980s it employed around 80 people, the company consisting of a main acting troupe, a touring company called “Flying Phoenix” and a touring dance company called “Phoenix Dance”.

Many famous names have been associated with the Phoenix over the years including:

·          Sue Townsend.  The Phoenix developed her as a new writer and  premiered her “Captain Christmas and the Evil Adults” in 1982 and then “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole” in 1984 which later went on to national acclaim in the 1980s.

·         Sir Anthony Hopkins CBE (actor) who performed there

·         Greta Sccacchi, (actress) who performed there

·         Sir Richard Eyre CBE (Director) who performed there

The highly decorated public toilets near the Phoenix Arts Centre, now demolished

The highly decorated public toilets near the Phoenix Arts Centre, now demolished

In 1973 a permanent theatre, the Haymarket, was built and the Phoenix became the Phoenix Arts Centre.  By 1988 it had developed into a venue for contemporary art, film and live performances.

Phoenix was due to close in 2009 when a new building, Phoenix Square, was established in the Cultural Quarter but the building found a new lease of life once again as the Upper Brown Street campus of Leicester College. It now stages performances from Leicester College students on Performing Arts,  Music and Sound courses.