Our History

Our History

Burnley Youth Theatre was set up in 1973 and for many years was run by volunteers. In 1978, the organisation moved onto our current site, a former Quarry, and was housed in a blue wooden building known as the Quarry Theatre. We became a charity in 1996 and got our first paid Artistic Director in 1997.

In 2005, after 10 years of fundraising, the current Burnley Youth Theatre building was opened. It was the first purpose built youth theatre in the UK and was developed and designed with young people. In 2013, the original Quarry Theatre was demolished and a new 2 studio building was built. The Moira Preston building, named after a dedicated and long standing volunteer, was opened in March 2014.

The organisation is a key part of Burnley’s fibre and has a history of delivering many high quality productions, projects and events in the town and surrounding areas. We are renowned for creating challenging pieces of theatre and delivering boundary pushing projects with local children, young people and communities including tackling issues such as Community Cohesion, Radicalisation, Mental Health, Forced Marriage, Child Sexual Exploitation and LGBTQ+ issues. We have built up a strong reputation for our work and attract regular support from local partners including schools, community groups, voluntary sector organisations and statutory services along with funding from local authorities and trusts and foundations. We are an Arts Council National Portfolio organisation and we have recently received 3 year funding for our Outreach work from Henry Smith Charity and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.

Burnley Youth Theatre has many alumni who have gone on to have successful careers in the creative and cultural industries including Julia Howarth (Coronation Street) and Thomas Pickles (Royal Shakespeare Company). We are proud that Burnley Youth Theatre was the foundation that they build their careers on. We also have a number of honorary patrons including theatre and television writer Joy Wilkinson and Hollywood film star Sir Ian McKellen.