Old Belgrade Theatre

Diamond Days: Celebrating 60 years in 2018

Posted on 13 March 2018

As Coventry begins preparations for its year as UK City of Culture in 2021, here at the Belgrade Theatre, we’re also getting ready to celebrate a major milestone in 2018. On Tuesday 27 March, we’re excited to announce that we’ll be celebrating our 60th birthday!

Coinciding with World Theatre Day 2018, the occasion marks 60 years since the Belgrade first opened its doors in 1958, and will kick off a packed programme of exciting shows and events for the year ahead, highlighting our rich and varied history at the creative and cultural heart of the city, as well as looking forward to the central role we will continue to play in Coventry’s future.

Box Office

Since becoming the UK’s first civic theatre to open after World War II in 1958, we’ve had plenty to celebrate, enjoying considerable renown both locally and nationally for our eclectic mix of home-produced and touring shows. Through an ongoing process of development, we’ve continued to expand and diversify our offerings, via changes such as the construction of our B2 studio, which marked its own 10th anniversary in 2017.

Over the years, we’ve helped launch the careers of several leading lights of the stage and screen, including Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Trevor Nunn, Richard Briers, Rosemary Leach and David Suchet, to name a few.


On a local level, we’ve also built a reputation as a hub for nurturing homegrown talent, with some alumni such as Clive Owen going on to enjoy international acclaim. More recently, our Springboard and Critical Mass schemes have provided an invaluable platform for emerging writers, performers and other creatives in Coventry to present their work in a professional context.

From the beginning, the Belgrade’s ethos has always been to stand proudly at the heart of everything that Coventry is and does, catering to hugely varied audiences, and cultivating close relationships with communities throughout the region. Through a combination of groundbreaking education and outreach work – historically including the pioneering Theatre in Education programme – and a huge variety of youth and community drama groups, we work with countless children and adults across the region, providing them with early and often life-changing experiences of theatre.


Among the fruits of this community work to take place as part of the Belgrade birthday celebrations will be an ambitious performance takeover of the neighbouring Coventry Evening Telegraph Building, titled Read All About It. Running from 10-14 July, this mini-festival will bring together professional performers from Mercurial Dance with our own youth and community groups as part of a large-scale immersive experience drawing on real-life stories from the city.

The Belgrade Theatre is a registered charity, and relies on financial support from individual and corporate donors as well as trusts and foundations in order to fund its community work. This March, in honour of our 60th birthday, we’re asking audiences to add a voluntary donation of 60p to ticket purchases to help ensure projects such as Read All About It are able to continue.

The Belgrade Theatre is part of a network of organisations promoting engagement with arts and culture in the lead-up to Coventry’s City of Culture year in 2021. In December 2017, we cemented our place in the campaign as supporters of the bid gathered here to watch the 2021 announcement live from Hull, with press on hand to broadcast their reactions to the country. Over the next few years, we will be working closely with both the City of Culture Trust and with communities across the region to present a programme that reflects the diversity, passion and creativity that made Coventry’s bid a success.


Birthday celebrations will get into full swing next season, with a glittering Diamond Anniversary Gala and some exciting home-produced shows planned for the autumn. But before that, look out for exciting announcements and events in spring and summer, including a birthday quiz and live radio broadcast from 9am-12pm on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire on the day itself.