Arts Derbyshire


What’s happening behind the scenes at Normanton Library

ARTICLE Normanton Library Sign.

Normanton Library may be running a limited service at the moment, but exciting developments including a new partnership with Derby Theatre are set to transform the building into a hub for the community to be proud of.

The community library, which was relocated from Pear Tree, reopened in the newly-refurbished St Augustine’s Community Centre in November 2019. It offers a wide range of books to borrow, including an extensive collection in languages including Urdu, Punjabi, Polish, Russian, Slovakian, Lithuanian, Romanian, French and Spanish. Large print books and audiobooks are also available on loan.

During the current COVID restrictions all four libraries run by Derby City Council – at Normanton, Riverside, Alvaston and Mickleover – are making books available through a Click and Collect service. PCs are also available for priority use, for example for job applications and CV writing when the user has no home access to WiFi or a computer.

As well as being home to Normanton Library, St Augustine’s Centre has meeting rooms for community use, including its real asset – a large room upstairs which can be used as a theatre space due to its stage area. While access has been limited, work has been going on to bring its facilities up-to-date. The stage has been restored and the curtains replaced, and plans are ongoing to upgrade the lighting and sound facilities, as part of the final stage of the building’s refurbishment by Derby City Council.

The most exciting development is the new partnership with Derby Theatre, which will use project funding from Arts Council England (ACE) to work with the local community in this rediscovered space, when it can open to the public again.

Funding was given to Derby Theatre and a consortium of cultural partners by ACE for its new project, called Derby Creative Arts Network (DerbyCAN), just prior to the first lockdown. As a network, this programme will work in community settings such as this, which is at the heart of Normanton, as well as producing new small-scale productions that will tour in local neighbourhoods and beyond. It will also provide artists with opportunities to deliver individual and community initiatives

As part of the Derby CAN project, Derby Theatre has also advised on the upgrades to sound and lighting facilities, which is being carried out by Derby City Council, to make sure the space has the best possible facilities.

Councillor Robin Wood, Derby City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism, said: “When St Augustine’s Community Centre can reopen fully again, as well as the Normanton Library the community will have access to a great, multi-purpose space upstairs, which includes meeting rooms. The stage and theatre facilities available make it an obvious venue for Derby Theatre’s Derby CAN project and I’m looking forward to seeing it become a vibrant community hub.”

Sarah Brigham, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Derby Theatre, said: “We are delighted to be working in the heart of our community through Normanton Library. We are hoping this partnership will give us the opportunity to fulfil our mission of getting arts activity to every member of the community in Derby. We hope to run some workshops there for people of all ages to discover their creativity and to bring some small performances to the stages too. The staff at Normanton Library have been visionary in partnering with us and our cultural partners and we look forward to developing exciting projects together.”

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