News Story

We’re delighted that Chichester District Council has granted planning permission for The Nest, a new 120-seat studio theatre created to be a vibrant hub for talent development and innovative and community performances.

Designed to complement our existing spaces and sited between the Festival Theatre and Northgate car park, The Nest will offer a dynamic venue to support artists and technicians at the beginning of their careers, including local writers and performers, and offer entertainment for a younger audience. It will also provide a space for CFT’s ever-increasing community programme, such as work with vulnerable adults, the Technical Youth Theatre, and early years (ages 0-3) activities.

Since opening in July 1962, almost exactly 62 years ago, CFT has always kept up with the times; 2024 marks the 10th anniversary of ‘Renew’, the major project to restore and upgrade the Grade II* listed Festival Theatre. Recently the foyer spaces were refreshed, moving the main Café to take full advantage of Oaklands Park.

Justin Audibert and Kathy Bourne, Artistic and Executive Directors, say: ‘We’re thrilled that Chichester District Council have endorsed our plans for The Nest, which is designed to help grow emerging talent while providing much needed support for community groups and initiatives, and a real opportunity to enhance Chichester’s night life. The core of the new building will be an existing temporary structure, previously located in London and Edinburgh. By reusing an existing building, sustainability is at the proposal’s heart.’

The planning approval marks a significant milestone in the project, with fundraising efforts underway. Sarah Mansell, Appeal Director, adds: ‘We know audiences and visitors have a real appetite for smaller, more informal theatre spaces such as our previous venues The Tent, Theatre on the Fly and The Spiegeltent (pictured below). We have an ambitious fundraising goal of at least £1.5 million to ensure The Nest meets the highest standards of excellence and accessibility, and are very grateful to all those who have donated so far. Please join them if you can!’

Sam Mendes, the director of Hollywood blockbusters such as 1917 and Skyfall, who began his career at Chichester, is a Patron of the Appeal, saying: ‘Nurturing the next generation of artists is vital to ensure that theatre in the UK maintains its international reputation for excellence. I am delighted to support Chichester Festival Theatre – a place dear to my heart – as they embark on creating this exciting new space. I cannot wait to see the work that is incubated in The Nest!’

Read more about The Nest and how you can support it.