Nottingham Girls’ High raise the curtain on £9m performing arts centre

A stunning new £9m state of the art performing arts centre at Nottingham Girls’ High School has been officially opened by Rosemary Squire OBE. The new centre has been named in honour of Rosemary to reflect her support of the project, her association with the school and prominent position in British theatre.

A special event was organised to mark the official opening of the Squire Performing Arts Centre, or ‘the space’, when guests, including former alumna Dame Stella Rimington, were able to see this fantastic facility for themselves, and enjoy a gala performance of the school’s theatre production of Grease.

This modern, new addition to the existing facilities will be used across the whole school providing performance space for the youngest girls right through to the Sixth Form, enhancing the teaching, learning and performance of music and drama at the school.

Development of the centre was supported by the GDST and an impressive £1.5m was raised through a Raise the Curtain campaign chaired and supported by Rosemary Squire, and other donations from various trusts and patrons, including Nottingham philanthropist Sir Harry Djanogly, school alumnae, parents, students and friends of the school.

Their generosity has been acknowledged by naming rooms in ‘the space’ after them, including the main auditorium named after Lady Carol Djanogly (wife of Sir Harry Djanogly) and a studio named after Jenny Farr MBE – an alumna and former governor of the school. Generous support from The Garfield Weston Foundation is recognised with the naming of the 74 seat studio theatre. Individual and group donations have also been acknowledged through gold, silver and bronze leaves on an art installation, the Donor Tree, which takes pride of place at the entrance to the centre.

The centre will also be available for use by community groups, arts organisations, other schools and businesses, beyond school hours. It has been purposefully designed to widen access to the arts and for developing community led projects. Nottingham’s schools and vibrant local dance, music and theatre groups will now have access to high-quality, affordable space for teaching, rehearsal and performance – a provision that has so far been limited.

Julie Keller, Head of Nottingham Girls’ High School, said: “We are delighted to be opening our new performing arts centre and I’m sure it’s going to be a great addition, not only to the school, but also to the local community, and that’s really important. With the many different facilities available, our girls will be able to learn many different theatre skills. Whether they’re interested in acting, singing, lighting or sound, there will be something for everybody.”

Referring to the opening and naming of ‘the space’, Julie added: “As a result of Rosemary’s association with the school, the role she played in spearheading and supporting the fundraising and her status in the world of theatre, it is only fitting that the centre be named after her.”

“I had a fantastic time at Nottingham Girls’ High School, which instilled a love of the arts in me that encouraged me to pursue my career in theatre,” said Rosemary Squire. “It is therefore a great honour to not just have been involved in the fundraising for this new performing arts centre, but also to have my family name connected to a place that was so important to me. I can’t wait to see both the school and the local community benefit from it and to be in the audience for its many future exciting productions.”