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Access and Inclusion

The Arena Theatre is a 150-seat small scale touring venue in the heart of Wolverhampton, providing an inclusive theatre experience for everyone.

The Arena started in 1976 in the disused basement gym of Wolverhampton Polytechnic, by the Drama and Performing Arts department. Originally it was a space for student performances, local schools, and community groups, but as time went by small professional touring theatre companies and musicians started to perform in the space as well.

With time and support from the Arts Council England, the theatre grew and provided more public events, leading to its reputation as much-loved organisation well known for its diverse work, which reflects Wolverhampton's rich cultural heritage.

Move forward 20 years, and that gym-come-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, and with it came one of the first purpose built for access theatre spaces in the UK.

The Arena Theatre re-opened in October 1999. With greatly improved access facilities and a determination to lead in inclusive theatre. Work by disabled artists and companies were programmed, alongside culturally diverse work which all continues to strongly feature in the work we continue to programme. The Arena quickly gained a reputation within the industry as a leader in accessible work. The Arena is committed to providing a safe space for all and theatre for everyone.

The Arena Theatre is supported in its bid to be inclusive by funding from the Arts Council England and by the University of Wolverhampton.

Everyone at the Arena Theatre continues to work towards making theatre for everyone and is constantly looking for new ways in which we can develop and enhance the experience at the Arena Theatre. We are very proud of the work we do and are very proud to be a part of this wonderfully diverse city.