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Project information

Costume Creators

To create a Wardrobe department in collaboration with people with learning disabilities working with 2 part time experienced costume designers / makers. This will also provide a costume resources for Theatre productions, schools and drama clubs and we aim for it to eventually be self funding.

April 2011 - March 2013

Charity information: Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds

Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds
  • Need


    The problem is 3-fold. Firstly, disability is under-represented in the performing arts industry and our aim is to put disability in the forefront of theatre provision. Secondly, the project can provide a wide range of skills and development for a group of the community who are often marginalised. Thirdly, Suffolk has a strong legacy of drama societies but there is limited provision for costumes and props.


    A major part of the Theatre's provision we will offer a range of skills learning in a REAL environment. Participants will learn costume repair, maintainence and making, photographing, cataloguing and sourcing new stock. They will learn skills around costume hire and marketing. Thus develop creative, business, numerical and entrepreneurial skills and encourage team work. It will also provide a costume resource for Theatre, schools and drama groups with the added aim of being self funding.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To create a Wardrobe resource, and specialist Georgian costume hire for Theatre, schools and clubs.


    » Recruit two experience textile makers/designers with experience of working with people with learning difficulties.
    » To secure the physical space for the project.
    » To begin equipping the resource.

    What success will look like

    The successful appointment of two costume supervisors.
    We will have sourced and equipped the facility.
    To become specialists in recreating Georgian costume.

    Aim 2

    To teach a wide range of skills to people with learning difficulties.


    » To use the Theatre's wider community network to recruit participants.
    » Run three afternoon sessions per week, 48 weeks per year, for three groups of people.
    » Offer these people the opportunity to learn REAL work skills from experienced practitioners in a REAL and exciting work environment.

    What success will look like

    We will keep a register of attendance and keep in regular touch with organisations to recruit new attendees. We will keep updated session plans of activities and skills achieved.

    Aim 3

    To have an exit strategy that the costume department be self sufficient, funded by its hire income.


    » We will create a mini business plan.
    » We aim to retain a core group of enthusiasts from the participants.

    What success will look like

    We will promote it as a business and log all the provision we make in costume hire.
    We will monitor the generation of income.

  • Impact


    It will change the public face of provision at the Theatre Royal, putting disabled people in the forefront of activity and, where appropriate, customer contact.

    It will increase community awareness of the Theatre Royal, and provide a new service the increasing use of which will prove its success.

    It will provide disabled participants with practical, transferable skills in a lively social context. We provide an increasing complexity of skills as participants progress.


    This is a fairly risk adverse project although there are three factors which would have a major impact which are;

    1. staff leaving (it is difficult to find someone with combined experience of working with people with learning difficulties and costume design and making skills)

    2. Loosing the designated space for the costume department because the Theatre cannot afford it

    3. That there is less demand for the outside hire end of the service than we anticipate.


    Donors will receive the annual report containing information on the Wardrobe project and an email update every two months.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £64,548

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      Amount Heading Description
      £5,868 Management Fees Management fees to Theatre Royal @ 10%
      £10,000 Premises Hire Space secured for two years.
      £3,380 Volunteers & Consultants Volunteers with PLD experience, Skills consultant fees (specialist)
      £41,000 Two Year's Salaries Skilled dress maker / wardrobe supervisor (inc NI)
      £4,300 Other Equipment, materials, Marketing, Refreshments, hospitality, Evaluation, Travel and other sundries

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Activities Unlimited, Suffolk County Council £30,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The Theatre Royal has a strong legacy of enriching the cultural life of Suffolk and the East of England. The Creative Learning Department’s aim is to place the Theatre firmly in the heart of the community. The project will be based at the Theatre working with people with learning disabilities in Bury St Edmunds and surrounding areas.


    Over this two year period more than 100 people with learning disabilities will benefit from this project.

    Theatre groups, drama clubs, schools and the Theatre Royal itself will be able to use the costume facility. The hire facility will also specialise in Georgian costume and be available for Georgian societies throughout the UK.

    The project will also attract volunteers from the community who will help support the learners and the wardrobe department itself.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Wardrobe Project is directly related to our primary business and we have the pre-requisite skills and experience to impart. We are central to the cultural life of Bury St Edmunds and Suffolk and can offer an excitement and glamour that is not to be found in many other industries. The range of tasks is varied and attainable and reflective of many elements of theatre’s business output.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Lynn Whitehead, Head Of Creative Learning

    25 years actor. 8 years as a creative learning manager working with community groups including a troupe of amateur actors with learning difficulties.

    Heidi McEvoy-Swift, Costume Store Supervisor

    BA Textiles, Cert. Ed and experience working with people with learning difficulties, Heidi is a skilled dressmaker.

    Becca Gibbs, Costume Store Supervisor

    A former theatre stage manager with many years of experience working on live productions. More recently she has retrained to work with young people.