Tucked away between a flower shop and a newsagents, opposite Sheffield Town Hall, is the Montgomery. Despite the impressive 204-year-old building in which it sits, you may not have previously paid it much attention. Its namesake is noted 19th-century hymn writer James Montgomery, and it still retains an interdenominational Christian ethos, whilst also putting on a programme of events that engage with all sectors of the community. Its current incarnation opened in 2013 and the venue now boasts a 420-seat theatre, a flexible studio space, and three rehearsal/exhibition/workshop spaces.
The theatre (nicknamed the Monty by those involved) complements its more well-known neighbours – The Crucible and The Lyceum – by staging productions that are specifically aimed at children and families. It operates under the mission statement "inspiring Sheffield's generations to wonder" and practices this through staging family-orientated shows.
Rachel Taylor from the Montgomery's team believes it is essential that the theatre place itself at the centre of Sheffield's cultural community, estimating that it is home to about 70% of the city's amateur dramatics, working with outside groups as part of the Friends of The Montgomery project. On the topic of integration, Rachel also says that "any city’s cultural ecology is just that – an ecology; it does us no good to isolate ourselves or think we can do it all ourselves". Managing director Julie Fancher practices this approach, having been on the founding board of the Sheffield Creative Guild and working in partnership with other arts programmes such as Music in the Round, Sheffield Theatres, What Next, and Chance to Dance.
Everything about their output suggests that The Montgomery has a keen spirit of public service, which will no doubt see them become a favourite of many.
- Words by
- Lucy Holt