Morecambe's bid to host international theatre World Congress 2020

Morecambe has become the UK centre for the International Theatre Institute (ITI) and is bidding to host its World Congress in 2020.

Tuesday, 20th March 2018, 2:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th March 2018, 2:05 pm
Morecambe Fringe Festival directors Matt Panesh and Nick Awde outside the Carleton Club.

The new title has already created a huge cultural boost - as the ITI’s Shanghai based director general flies in this week to visit the town and watch a performance by Morecambe’s newly created DIY Theatre Company.

A successful bid to host the organisation’s World Congress would see performing artists, educators and trainers, politicians, as well as leaders of UNESCO and the UN from up to 90 countries across the globe descend on Morecambe for presentations, speeches and performances.

Photo Neil Cross Matt Panesh, organiser of a new festival which is coming to Morecambe, the Morecambe Fringe Festival, at the Carleton club

Matt Panesh, new President of the UK Centre of ITI (Morecambe), said there are now plans to breathe new life into the Alhambra Theatre in Marine Road, create a new world class 1,000 seat theatre space, and become a “port for culture” in the north of England.

It is estimated that the cost could run to around £15m, and create a huge tourism boost in the town.

He said: “If you join the audiences for shows and events at The Alhambra, you are helping to put the heart back into the West End community.

“The West End was the thriving centre of Morecambe’s world famous theatre entertainments, and with your support we’re bringing it all back.

Matt Panesh at The Alhambra Theatre

“This will also help our local businesses, artists and crafts to thrive in the area.”

A programme of events at the Alhambra starts with World Children’s Theatre and the launch of ITI on Wednesday, March 21 with ITI director general Tobias Biancone, who will also visit The Exchange and The Platform.

This event at The Alhambra takes place between 6.30pm and 9.30pm, is open to all, and will feature tours, exhibitions and performances.

The Story Festival follows on March 24 and 25, with comedians, poets and spoken word artists performing at “pay what you want” shows.

Photo Neil Cross Matt Panesh, organiser of a new festival which is coming to Morecambe, the Morecambe Fringe Festival, at the Carleton club

World Theatre Day on March 27 will include stage readings of the first ever Morecambe 10 minute play competition, and a performance by DIY West End Theatre of The Box by Robert Calvert to celebrate the ITI’s 70th anniversary..

Space rock legends Hawkwind will then host their own three day music festival at The Alhambra, between March 30 and April 1, and then on April 2, a world record attempt at staging the longest ever gig will see live music play out 24/7 over 19 days.

New Morecambe Fringe events will coincide with the Vintage Festival in early September, with plans to invite performers from the Edinburgh Fringe to spend a week in Morecambe.

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Matt Panesh at The Alhambra Theatre

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