Earlier in this series, we covered how we came to connect with the Stone Revellers, as a reminder, this came about when both myself and Leo Capernaros both made contact with the Crown Wharf Steering Group, in the same week, late in 2016.
The outcome of this you all know. Joule’s is sponsoring the project to build a brand new purpose built 140 seater Studio Theatre. At face value, this seems to be a grand civic gesture, especially for a company as small as we are. We depend, like any business on the support of our bank, NatWest, and they expect us to be rational in the way we invest. This was not a conventional pitch, so why are we doing this?
First, it really is a grand civic gesture, along with our sponsorship of the Heritage Centre, both projects will top half a million pounds which will return £2 per year. But, we also get a lot out of this, the sponsorship will help re-establish Joule’s in Stone, our judgement was that we would need community support if we were to carry such a significant project, what better way to engage with the community than to engage in projects that excite the community. The projects also help us to make Crown Wharf more of a focus point, the two projects will draw people, this, in turn, will help build the profile of our new Joule’s Taphouse.
We also hope that the Theatre will be very popular. In part 5 we explained the layout where there will be a Theatre bar at one end of our very long 33-metre servery, the Thespians Bar. With the Theatre bringing a whole new cross-section of people to Crown Wharf, then it’s an opportunity for us to expose our brand to new people as well as build some sales. If the pub is good enough we think some people will pop in for a beer before or after the show, and we will be offering pre and post-theatre dining options to compliment an evening. With the Revellers, we hope that by creating a great offer then we can enhance the occasion, be it a show, film or music event, and hence make ticket sales more attractive.
Lastly, and very hard to measure, but we think the Taphouse will be better for the Theatre, thespians are a creative, energetic, affable, sociable and an exuberant community, they bring life, energy, imagination. Book clubs are good too, and we have space for that, but altogether a quieter affair.
We already have a good relationship with the Gatehouse Theatre just down the road in Stafford where we have a pub, Ye Olde Rose & Crown, next door, and we have a great rapport with them. Who doesn’t want some added sparkle in life! Our hope is there may be some cross interest, and if nothing else cross-marketing with the Gatehouse.
It’s natural to be a little cynical, there is no such thing as a free lunch after all, in this case, don’t be. This is more a case of two like-minded people both really wanting some lunch, but only one of them has a credit card.
We really want to be more than just a pub and to make Crown Wharf bigger and better, we also want to be a part of the community. We can also make a business case, which we need to in order to persuade our bank to fund it. It is a rare occasion when a series of different interests combine in a really complimentary way – there is a commercial dynamic, but the main reason, is that it will be fun, and because Joule’s is an independent brewery then we have more flexibility in what we do
I would urge you to take a look at the Reveller’s website, this is an extraordinary group, established in 1978, an amateur group with a professional approach, continuous for over 40 years, it is truly remarkable. It speaks of Stone and of the community that The Revellers exist at all and we are very proud that they have the trust and confidence in Joule’s to partner with us. This is an endorsement that we prize, it matters greatly to us that we deliver and repay that good faith.
The agreement between us is for Joule’s to build the shell of the auditorium, this will seat 140 people, in comfort. The idea is to create a purpose-built Theatre. The joy of it will be that it will be a full and real Theatre but smaller, it will give both performers and the audience a ‘full’ Theatre experience. We want it to have all the trappings, colour and comfort of a real Theatre, the sense of an auditorium, the theatre of a Theatre. It’s a bit like building a Pub in your garden shed, it may not be a proper commercial Pub, but it should feel like one, otherwise what’s the point?
Our combined goal is performing to a fully professional standard. The Theatre will stand out in a dramatic hexagon shape, the highest building at Crown Wharf at 7 metres [5 internally], to create a small but impactful theatrical space. We have to use a steel frame which allows the wide expanse of the space, and a roof which can support lighting. The theatre reverses into the store next to Wharfingers Cottage. This old store will be opened up, reinforced with steel so we can remove the floor and hence form a part of the main space and provide a flexible backdrop to the performance area, allowing staging options as well as performance space for bands, events, film…
Wharfingers Cottage has now been restored and The Revellers are designing this along with a purpose-built store next to it for their back of house requirements, and even space for the set building is proposed.
The Studio Theatre will be managed by a charitable trust, the idea is to make it available not just to the Revellers but a whole host of like-minded groups across the region, the trust will also offer it for commercial purposes, to help pay a few bills.
The agreement also allows Joule’s to have one event per month in order to promote our own special interest in local music through our sponsorship of Rock & Bowl Festival, now in its 5th year.
Once the shell is complete the trust will be seeking support to fit out the Theatre, this will be an enormous effort and they will, of course, need as much help and support as they can. We are looking forward to playing our part in that exciting future and the challenges that lie ahead. There will be an opportunity for you to help with that too – we will need all the help we can get, to keep in touch like the Revellers FB page and you won’t miss a thing.
Find out more about Stone Revellers by visiting their website and Facebook page.
To keep up to date with the Crown Wharf Theatre Stone progress follow them on Facebook.