Guide Bridge Theatre is an entirley volunteer run amateur theatre in Audenshaw on the edge of Ashton-under-Lyne.
It was originally founded in 1941 and in 1972 it acquired its own premises on Audenshaw Road, converting them into a 116 seat theatre and bar. The buildings have been substantially improved and, over the last 4 years, the theatre has invested in improvements to the entrance, foyer, bar, coffee bar and Disability Discrimination Act compliance. In 2012 it carried out a major upgrade of auditorium seating with grant aid from Sita Trust and the St. Modwen Environmental Trust. It is now a venue fit for 21st Century audience expectations.
The theatre has become much more than an amateur dramatic society and has developed into a venue serving the local community. In recognition of this, in 2009 the theatre incorporated as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. A clause in the Memorandum and Articles secures the theatre's assets for the community in that, upon dissolution or winding up, the net proceeds of any sale of the assets must be passed on to an organisation having similar objectives.
The activities of Guide Bridge Theatre Ltd. include the following:
- 6 amateur plays of 6 performances and 1 pantomime of 10 performances each year
- a weekly senior citizens tap class
- a weekly dance class for local children
- a live music venue for younger audiences
- ad hoc hires and internal fundraising efforts
- host to visiting/touring companies
- home of 2 Faced Theatre Company - a youth theatre whose dance and theatre workshops open the theatre to new families and audiences
- home of The Johnny Barlow Theatre Company offering weekly drama sessions for adults with mental health and moderate learning difficulties. In 2013 an Awards for All grant helped the group to produce a film and interactive performance called “It Makes Me Mad” which explored awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues. In 2015 a similar grant was used to help the group produce an opera called “Da Doo Ron Ron” exploring the future of volunteering in this sector (click for more information)
The theatre's role in the community has been recognised by the local authority in describing it as “an essential community asset”.