Swanage theatre seeks new blood with help from its friends

Young adults are being invited to connect with The Mowlem as part of a new scheme to invigorate the Swanage arts centre – and it won’t cost them a penny.

Taking a fresh approach to encourage community involvement, a Friends of The Mowlem scheme has been set up with free membership for 14 to 21 year olds.

Theatre posters from the 1930s and neon signs from the 1960s have been unearthed at The Mowlem recently

Paul Angel, chair of the Mowlem Institute Charity, wants more community involvement at the arts centre

Shaping better events for young adults

In return for signing up as members, young adults will be able to claim a £1 discount on cinema tickets throughout the year and will have exclusive access to tickets for stage shows 24 hours before they go on general sale.

But just as important as giving them perks and an incentive to try out The Mowlem is the hope of involving them in shaping a better programme of events for the younger generation.

Paul Angel, chair of the Mowlem Institute Charity, said:

“When we did a survey across Swanage a couple of years ago, one of the things that we noted was that we didn’t get much feedback from the younger generation.

“We know there are those who are regular cinemagoers and those who are involved in stage shows, but we want to give young people a reason to give The Mowlem a go if they haven’t before.”

The Mowlem, at the heart of entertainment in Swanage

The Mowlem is looking for new friends, of all generations

“Hoping to get some keen young people”

Paul added:

“You know what it’s like, you see a small town theatre and you think that’s somewhere your mum would take you, or else it’s something for your gran.

“We are actually saying here’s something for you, it doesn’t cost you anything, we’ll give you something off your tickets and the chance to participate in some other events as we go along.

“We are really hoping that we will get some keen young people who might be happy to act as a focus group, to help us do a bit more for younger people in the community. If people feel a sense of belonging, they may want to get more involved in other things.”


Friends may get advance booking for sell out comedy shows after the success of Sean Walsh and Andy Parsons, above

“We may reach out for feedback”

For adults, a single membership will be £25 a year, while a family membership for two adults and up to two children aged under 14 years old will be £45 for a year.

There will be £1 off cinema tickets for adults, with a special price of £5 a ticket for children, while The Mowlem also hopes to be able to organise special events through the year.

Paul Angel said:

“Essentially we are hoping to build a bit of a feeling of community around The Mowlem so people who want to give a little something back and at the same time want to feel a part of it, can do that.

“In terms of benefits they get a small discount on tickets which is just a thank you, really, but as we start to build up the group we may host coffee mornings, or perhaps backstage tours of the theatre.

“There may be opportunities to get advance booking for comedy nights, where there are specific seats that people are determined to get, it’s really just giving people a few perks.

“This isn’t about finding volunteers, but we may reach out to people for feedback on a particular show we have done, or ask for some thoughts about what they would like to see – it’s just a little interaction between us and our friends.

“We spent a long time looking at what other local and small theatres did before putting our plan together – it is something which most established theatres do, but we thought it was important for us to start our own friends group.”


Swanage Musical Theatre Company will follow up 2023’s show My Fair Lady with Anything Goes

A hectic start planned to 2024

Fundraising campaigns in The Mowlem’s 160th year are going strong, including sponsored plaques which 40 people have had attached to their favourite seats, and the restoration of historical posters discovered in storage, which have been sponsored and put on display in The Showbar.

Further fundraising initiatives are set to be announced in the next few weeks and The Mowlem is looking forward to a hectic start to 2024, starting with Swanage Drama Company’s pantomime Cinderella in January.

Swanage School presents Matilda the Musical in February 2024 while the Swanage Musical Theatre Company will bring its latest show Anything Goes to the stage in March 2024.

The Mowlem is also looking to book more stand up comedians to follow Sean Walsh, whose Back From The Bed show in September 2023 was a sell out, and Andy Parsons who brings his stand up show Bafflingly Optimistic, to The Mowlem on Saturday 18th November 2023.


Swanage Drama Company is getting ready to present 2024’s pantomime at The Mowlem in January 2024

Friends of The Mowlem Single Adult membership

  • £1 off adult cinema tickets
  • Special offers on selected live events
  • Exclusive pre-sales
  • Supporter events
  • Membership Fee: £25 Per Year

Family membership

  • (two adults and up to two children under 14)
  • £5.00 child cinema tickets
  • £1 off adult cinema tickets
  • Special offers on selected live events
  • Exclusive pre-sales
  • Supporter events
  • Membership Fee: £45 Per Year

Youth membership

  • Membership is FREE for young people aged 14 – 21.
  • £1 off cinema tickets
  • Special offers on selected live events
  • Exclusive pre-sales
  • Supporter events

Further information

  • Sign up to become a Friend of The Mowlem via its website

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