The Castleford Phoenix Theatre is a 308-seat theatre in Airedale, Castleford. Unique for being an integral part of an Academy whilst also operating as a professional receiving and producing venue. The theatre can operate 365 days a year independantly of the Academy and provides a venue for a variety of live entertainment and events.
In the years since the theatre was built we have welcomed over 250,000 people to some of the best entertainment on offer in the Five Towns area.
The theatre was built following a fire in 2006 which destroyed the High School Hall, which as a venue operated as The Arts Centre. The Governors of the school in line with the specialiastion as an Arts College took the brave decision to replace the hall with a purpose built theatre. Over two years the new theatre gradually took shape and plans were put in place about how the venue could be used.
Originally designed as a Performing Arts, Conferencing and Education Centre (P.A,C.E) the newly named Phoenix Theatre opened it’s doors in November 2008 with an Arts Festival by the school celebrating the work of several local arts organisations as well as local schools.The Phoenix quickly began to be used by local groups, dance schools, etc and 2009 featured our first full season of events and shows.
The Theatre continued to grow in popularity with our various users and more people discovered they now had a theatre on their doorstep, but professional shows struggled getting audiences as the resources available to promote the theatre were limited.
This changed in 2017 when Airedale Academy decided to employ someone to manage the theatre full time, which meant that programming, marketing and publicity and all the other areas required to run a full time, professional venue could finally be realised.
Our seasons have got longer and much more busier as we stage more events and shows. We now attract audiencences from across the region and host shows that tour the UK and beyond.
We are the resident venue for several local Dance Schools who use the opportunities that we offer as a venue to present shows of very high quality. Local amateur operatic groups who have got used to the Phoenixs design restrictions and now give outstanding entertainment using local performers. We also host professional shows that are helping us develop further and have seen acts including Psychic Sally, Roy Chubby Brown, Richard Jones, Billy Pearce and Mark ‘Billy’ Billingham bring their UK shows to Castleford.
The Castleford Phoenix Theatre is currently 100% self funded which in the current arts climate is remarkable. We receive no income from any other source except from the shows and audiences that support them. Thank you to our fantastic staff, the governors, senior leadership, staff and pupils at Airedale Academy and everyone else who supports the Phoenix so that we can continue to develop and evolve season by season.
In March 2020, along with every other venue in the country we closed our doors due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. This event had long reaching implications for the entire industry. For us it has meant the loss of 100% of our income and all operations were suspended. Although other venues started to slowly reopen, the Phoenix has been held in stasis by the Academy Trust which owns and opperates us. Unlike a standard venue, as a multi purpose venue that is part of a school we have many other considerations which need to be carefully planned for, and being part of a school can mean things happen slower than they do in other venues, however we look forward to and continue to work toward our reopening.
Being part of a school, education is very important to us. Not only does the Phoenix allow the Academy to stage some breath-taking must see shows it also allows students to work in a professional venue and environment all without leaving site. This is especially important for Airedale Academy Sixth Form - Performing Arts musical theatre course. The Phoenix has been used to stage shows by the Academy including Les Miserables, (complete with revolving stage!), Billy Elliot, Miss Saigon, White Christmas, Oliver! the Musical, Grease (several times) FAME!, Chorus Line, Ghost The Musical (with full video wall and interactive scenery and special effects) Wizard Of Oz and many more
The phoenix is also important in the training and education of young people interested in what makes a theatre work. Some of our former technical students have gone on to pursue successful careers in the industry including operating lighting for the Strictly Come Dancing UK tour 2022, and head of video for the Jersey Boys Uk Tour amongst many other roles.