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11.04.23 – A new Astley Centre for Performing Arts

Written by on 10 April 2023

A showpiece centre celebrating one of Newcastle under Lymes most famous sons has identified its headquarters.

The new Astley Centre for Circus & Performing Arts, to be run by a Community Interest Company (CIC), will occupy a town centre building currently lying empty.

Using Government funding currently being approved, 23-25 Merrial Street in Newcastle will be renovated to accommodate the Astley Centre to create a museum, research centre and a training and teaching facility.

The Centre will build on the success of previous celebrations in the town of Philip Astley – and draw on the expertise available the New Vic Theatre – to develop a dedicated centre for circus.

Features will include the history and heritage of the circus, along with workspaces, fully equipped studios and an education area.

Andrew Van Buren, Director of the Philip Astley Project CIC, said: “It is paramount that new ways are developed for creating footfall in town centres and I have seen how this can be successfully achieved through my world travels as part of my showbusiness career, witnessing first-hand how key historic figures can positively impact areas.

“In Newcastle-under-Lyme’s case that figure is local born Philip Astley – the military hero, creator of modern circus and the original Ringmaster. Philip Astley not only offers a key historic figure, but also a link with the town’s heritage and global cultural legacy. This wonderful and exciting news has the potential to be of a great addition not only to Newcastle-under-Lyme, but also the whole of Staffordshire.”