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Filming at Dusk


Our Campaign


FTA campaigns to replace the now demolished, once highly praised Redgrave Theatre with a new community cultural facility in Farnham - a building of comparable or superior quality.  The purpose-built theatre was only 36 years old when demolished and was constructed by using public subscription money, donated in good faith to assist the local Councils in providing a community cultural based learning and entertainment facility for the people of Farnham. It achieved national acclaim in the 1980s before the policies for the Arts aimed to reduce the number of regional theatres.

FTA was awarded charitable status by HMRC which enables us to receive tax deductable donations. Our aim is to set up a charitable trust in the future to run a theatre in Farnham.

FTA campaigns on these fronts

Since the advent of Covid 19, the War in Ukraine and the national cost of living crisis, FTA’s ambitions have had to be scaled back but we intend to resume the following activities when times are more favourable:

  • Presentations to explain the numerous benefits to the community of a local professional theatre

  • Engaging with educational establishments seeking to enhance theatrical, technical, managerial and literary knowledge and skills

  • Collaborating with organisations seeking to enhance community wellbeing

  • Helping to bring more visitors and tourists to the town for a longer stay

  • Helping Farnham residents and businesses to realise the benefits that theatre brings to the local economy and to all cross sections of society

  • Fund Raising to help our community cause

  • Appealing to Statutory bodies against misuse of public property and listed buildings

  • Campaigning on the streets to listen to the community’s needs and bring them to the attention of government

  • Linking with Amateur and Professional Theatre companies

  • Liaising with the Theatre’s Trust and other organisations and experts concerned with the protection of theatre buildings

Some brief facts about FTA

  • Core FTA Membership of some 50 individuals

  • Email Newsletter readership of around 400

  • Simple operating structure

  • Five Directors of FTA Ltd.

  • Treasurer - see our accounts here

  • Website developer and advisor

  • Theatre consultance advice


FTA seeks help in the following areas:

  • Volunteer Organiser and associated teams

  • Membership Secretary

  • Working Groups researching specific issues

  • A Legal Adviser

  • Publicity team

The FTA will work in co-operation with Farnham Maltings and other entertainment providers, to ensure that the people of Farnham and the surrounding area have a full range of entertainment opportunities throughout the year.

Click here to view the 2021 consultant's report on the new theatre project.

How FTA Evolved

FTA grew out of the campaign to re-open the Redgrave, begun by The New Farnham Repertory Company (NFRC) in 1999. A series of productions were staged in marquees to persuade Waverley Borough Council (WBC) of the viability of restoring the Redgrave, but the Council was determined on demolition.

At the retirement of NFRC Director, Ian Mullins, the campaign moved from the actors’ company into the community. Anne Cooper, one of the NFRC volunteers, formed a small committee in 2006 and FTA was created to demonstrate Farnham’s need for a well-equipped entertainment venue. However, WBC had become contractually tied to a developer and remained obdurate.

After the demolition of the Redgrave in 2019, it became clear in Waverley that arguments for a theatre were well founded and positive moves began. Despite the current financial climate, surrounded by a catchment area with an ever-expanding population, FTA remains committed to the belief that Farnham deserves a theatre to complement its role as a culturally creative town.


We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of common questions and answers about our campaign. Browse the section, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Image by Wesley Pribadi

The Redgrave was a success for many years - why did it close?

It’s true it had been a genuine success bringing quality entertainment to many thousands in the area. But the repertory structure became less successful and in its final years, new managements were installed at the Redgrave, which led directly to significantly increased costs and also reduced audiences through inappropriate programming.

What is the history of the Redgrave Theatre?

Please download the report What Happened to the Redgrave Theatre.

Why should a theatre succeed now?

The FTA’s new plan for a theatre avoids past mistakes and has been specifically designed for Farnham at a time when there is a revival of interest in live performance. Theatres give much needed value to town centres, bringing  visitors to the retail areas and adding to the evening economy.

Actor's Audition

Isn’t this idea to reintroduce theatre just based on nostalgia?

On the contrary, it’s soundly based on our detailed, analytical and independently produced Consultant's Report that takes full account of the marketplace for theatre, with great opportunities for community involvement. In 2021 The Town Council accepted a report it had commissioned to identify cultural attractions in Farnham and this had noted a substantial gap in the market for theatre, with a large potential audience

I understand Farnham is in a high density housing area - why isn’t there already a theatre?

In fact, in this part of the South-East, a catchment area for theatre already exists of over 343,000 people and that is due to significantly increase with Government targets for housing. Waverley Borough Council’s current policy for non buildings-based theatre (small companies touring village halls) needs updating and it is not even satisfying current demand.

How can the FTA say that council tax won’t have to rise to cover the running costs?

The FTA plan is for a self-supporting theatre made available to a wider community, through a system of advance subscription bookings to give financial stability.


This new programme sounds idealistic – does it really work in practice?

There are over 70 theatres across the UK operating successfully without public subsidy and our individual plan has been custom-built to suit our local circumstances.

The Farnham Maltings already provides theatre, doesn’t it?

The Maltings does run some events on its stage but cannot accommodate real theatre. If it could, it would. The shape of the buildings with very poor acoustics and technical limitations make it unsuitable. Nor has the Maltings policy of small touring companies visiting village halls been a satisfactory alternative. Consequently, thousands of people objected to the plans to demolish the Redgrave.

Wouldn’t a new theatre just compete with the Maltings?

Not at all. A new theatre would complement the activities at the Maltings and provide what it cannot. The theatre programme would be entirely different and together their offerings would put Farnham on the map for culture and entertainment for residents and tourists to Farnham.

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