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New Wolsey Theatre

With a 400 seat main auditorium, and 100 seat studio, the New Wolsey Theatre is nationally renowned for the quality and diversity of its productions. The theatre has a particular reputation for musical work, and is a leading player in the development of new musicals. Recent musical revivals have included an actor-musician version of Sweet Charity, Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years, and Made in Dagenham in co-production with Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. They have joined forces with six other mid-scale theatres and Graeae Theatre Company to create Ramps on the Moon, an Arts Council funded strategic touring project, with the aim of increasing the engagement and participation of D/deaf and disabled actors, artists and audiences. 2017 saw their own production of The Who’s Tommy open in Ipswich before embarking on a national tour. As a not-for-profit organisation and a registered charity, they are funded by the Arts Council England, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council as well as through the invaluable donations, individual giving and corporate support of their many friends, patrons and sponsors.

19 May 2017
East of England
Local Alliances:
Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

As a regional theatre we feel strongly about ensuring that we are at the heart of our local community and that those who live in Ipswich and Suffolk feel that we are their theatre. As such it is important for us to know that those living with Dementia and their families or carers understand what their local theatre can do to support them living well with Dementia. Therefore the 6thoutcome that the National Dementia Declaration lists is the one we feel we are most able to help in delivering:

I have a sense of belonging and of being a valued part of family, community and civic life

We have begun to programme Dementia Friendly Performances as well as pre-show Familiarsation and Reminiscence talks that allow better access to our productions for those living with Dementia. It is important for us to continue to progress this work and share our learning with our peers locally and nationally to ensure that the arts remains accessible to people living with Dementia 

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?


As a not-for-profit charity our biggest challenge will be funding to be able to make these plans a reality. We will continue to work with local businesses as sponsors of our work and where appropriate seek help from trust and foundations to ensure that we are not held back in our planning or delivery of projects due to limited funds.

The other challenge will be developing an understanding of Dementia that specifically relates to why living with Dementia may present barriers to people attending theatre. The learning around this is beginning to happen in the industry but currently the research and practice is limited. We are excited at the prospect of potentially being able to shape the future of the arts offer to those living with Dementia and their families or carers.

Member website


2. Actions

  • Improve our Understanding of Dementia

    The New Wolsey Theatre has allocated one member of staff to become a Dementia Champion so that there is at least one team member with a detailed understanding. This member of staff delivered information sessions to all NWT staff and to our customer facing volunteers so that all staff are Dementia Friends.

    The New Wolsey theatre have been running dementia awareness training for not only the staff here but also for the cast where a dementia friendly performance will be part of the run. We are also currently in conversation with another organisation regarding a loan of some particular equipment which will further support the staff here as to how living with dementia can affect our audience.

    Follow up training will be provided specifically to customer facing staff for them to understand how to put their new understanding into a context of their role here at the theatre. 


    2019 - First Quarter Update


  • Join the Local Dementia Action Alliance and take an active role in the steering group

    The New Wolsey Theatre have joint the Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance and became a key member of the steering group who have been leading on getting Ipswich recognised as “working towards becoming a dementia friendly community”

    We will ensure that the theatre is represented at all meetings and have taken on leading the sub group for Arts & Leisure- with a particular focus to help encourage other arts venues to begin or continue their journey towards becoming recognised as a working towards becoming a dementia friendly venue. 

  • Increase our Dementia Friendly Performance and Events Offer

    We have now increased our offering of dementia friendly performances and at least 2 shows per season where, within the run, we have relaxed and dementia friendly performances for. Our Familiarisation tours are also still available however we are more flexible with these and are happy to accommodate these when suits, wherever possible, rather than at a dedicated time or date for becoming more familiar with the theatre. We have also built key links with community groups who are very engaged in what we do here and we in turn look to support them and their group/organisation within the community.