The Arena Theatre is a friendly 150 seat venue in the heart of Wolverhampton, providing innovative theatre experiences for everyone.
The Arena began life in 1976 in a disused gym in the basement of Wolverhampton Polytechnic, as part of the Drama and Performing Arts department. In addition to student performances, the theatre presented shows by local schools and community groups, as well as professional touring theatre companies and musicians.
With support from the Arts Council of England, the theatre was able to put on more events and open its doors to a much wider audience from outside the polytechnic, becoming a much-loved theatre that offered work reflecting Wolverhampton’s rich cultural diversity.
20 years later, however, the theatre had outgrown its cramped and inaccessible home, so with investment from the University of Wolverhampton and a grant from the National Lottery, an ambitious £2 million refurbishment began.
After 18 months of building work, the Arena Theatre re-opened in October 1999. With greatly improved facilities and access, the theatre was able to expand its programme of performances and events. We now host in excess of 200 public performances per year – in addition to a host of other special events. The work of culturally diverse artists continues to feature strongly in our programme of work and we have developed a reputation as one of the leading venues in the country for our support of Deaf and disabled artists.
Arena Theatre is supported using funding by Arts Council England and by the University of Wolverhampton.