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Derry Accommodation - The Playhouse

The Award Winning The Playhouse is based in Artillery Street, Derry and was established by Pauline Ross in 1992 with a grant of just £300. Since then it has grown to become one of Irelandís leading Award Winning multi-disciplinary Community Art Resource Centres based on a neutral site with the city centre. It is a self-help, grass roots, bottom-up community development project which is people centre with charitable status.

The Playhouse comprises two theatres (860 and 129 seats), an extensive Education and Outreach Department, a Dance Studio, the Source Arts Resource Centre, a gallery and is home to several cultural/art based groups and tenants. The Playhouse filled (and continues to fill) a large gap in the provision of the arts in the North West. It also is one of only a handful of venues commissioning, producing and touring theatre in the island of Ireland The Playhouses runs a large selection of in-house and outreach education programmes and workshops in the North West and across the island of Ireland

Playhouse - History and Background
Instead of isolating themselves from the public as was the Catholic tradition, Catherine Macaulay's Sisters of Mercy worked amidst the poverty and disease of starvation-wracked Derry in the 1840s. Touched by this self-sacrifice, the Bishop of Derry made a gift of one of his properties. St Mary's convent offered the facilities of a private boarding school, the proceeds from which were used to feed and educate the poor.

A second, purpose built school - St Joseph's - was built in 1887. This grander building was designed by the respected architect Edward Toye and features an entrance archway of moulded cement render and wooden cobbles.

What was to become Thornhill College's expansion on another site in the 1980s saw the buildings fall into disuse. The buildings remained empty until the 1990s until rediscovered by Pauline Ross who together with a property investor has transformed the buildings into one of Northern Ireland's busiest and most diverse centres for the arts. Currently the Playhouse is well on its way to achieving full restorative funding.





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