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Swanage Theatre seeks to secure its future

Edgar Wright Patron of the Mowlem Theatre Swanage

Community-focused Mowlem Theatre seeks to raise £160,000

An ambitious target to continue the work of the Mowlem Institute, formed 160 years ago....

The Mowlem Institute Charity today has unveiled ambitious plans to fundraise £160,000 to secure the future of the seaside Theatre and Cinema for future generations. 

160 years ago, in 1863, John Mowlem created the Mowlem institute to improve conditions of life for ‘all the people of Swanage without exception’ by providing facilities for education, recreation and the ‘betterment of all.’ To celebrate his enduring, community focussed, inclusive vision, the Trustees of The Mowlem Theatre and Cinema have committed to an ambitious fundraising target for 2023, which will help to secure the Mowlem for the next generation of Theatre and Cinema goers.

To kick-start the year-long run of fundraising activities, The Mowlem are excited to have launched Take Your Seat, a chance to show your support by dedicating a seat in our auditorium to a lost loved one, family member, friend, inspirational figure or even in your name. 

To officially launch the campaign, The Mowlem has dedicated the best seat in the house, J13, to our first Patron, the award-winning Film Director Edgar Wright.

Take Your Seat along with Edgar Wright!

Take A Seat Fundraising Campaign at The Mowlem Cinema and Theatre in Swanage

On March 15th The Mowlem Institute Charity revealed its first-ever Patron, Edgar Wright [IMDb], the award-winning English filmmaker. Edgar Wright, born and raised in Swanage before moving to Somerset, is best known for his comedic Three Flavours Cornetto film trilogy;  Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World’s End (2013).

Wright’s connection to the local area also includes his attendance at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design (now Arts University Bournemouth) in 1994, where he received a National Diploma in Audio-Visual Design before going on to make his first feature film, A Fistful of Fingers, shortly after in 1995. In 2018 the Arts University Bournemouth awarded Wright an Honorary Fellowship.

Wright is also credited with co-writing and directing the cult classic Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010), the action film Baby Driver (2017), the music documentary The Sparks Brothers (2021), and the psychological horror film Last Night in Soho (2021).

On his new role as The Mowlem’s Patron Edgar Wright has commented ‘”I was born and raised in Dorset and lived in Swanage until I was 7. The Mowlem was one of the first cinemas I ever attended, and it was partly responsible for a film fandom that continues to this day. Some movies I saw there in first release with my parents and older brother Oscar, included the Ralph Bakshi animated ‘Lord Of The Rings’, ‘Watership Down’, ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ and ‘Clash Of The Titans’. 

I returned to Swanage for a break last summer and was thrilled that the Mowlem was still showing movies. Standing in the auditorium again was a very pleasant experience, and I hope to be down again soon. I am proud to be a patron; I’m a film director now, but I never stopped being a film-goer. Keep up the great work.”

Edgar Wright Patron of the Mowlem Theatre Swanage
Patron Edgar Wright's plaque on the seat at the Mowlem Theatre

'Take Your Seat' at The Mowlem!

For a £200 donation, a personal message of up to 40 characters will be engraved on a brass plaque and placed on a seat in the auditorium. Plaques will remain on seats for ten years. You can nominate an available seat or have The Mowlem choose for you.

Donations will fund necessary updates to the auditorium, including a new lighting desk and communications equipment to facilitate improved communication between Front of House and auditorium staff during live shows and cinema screenings. Donations will also contribute to running costs of The Mowlem and reducing a Covid Business recovery loan, thus enabling the Trust to continue offering a variety of entertainment for everyone in Swanage. 

More details on how to donate and secure your plaque on The Mowlem Website

More fundraising initiatives at The Mowlem to be announced soon...

Take Your Seat is just the first of many fundraising initiatives the Trust will be running throughout 2023 and early 2024, with details on other campaigns and initiatives to be shared soon.

‘2023 marks 160 years of the Mowlem Institute Trust, so what better way to celebrate than by launching an ambitious and vital fundraising year of activities? Every penny raised this year will enable our beloved Theatre, Cinema, Showbar and Community space to remain open for everyone to enjoy. We have big plans, and we know the generous businesses and people of Swanage and beyond will help us reach our ambitious target. The launch of our ‘Take your Seat’ campaign is your chance to join Edgar Wright, by dedicating a seat in the auditorium to a lost loved one, a family member, a friend or even yourself! We’d love to fill our auditorium with heartfelt dedications,’ Said Laura Dickens, Trustee & Fundraising Chair.

About The Mowlem Institute Charity 

A board of Trustees runs the Mowlem Theatre and employs a small team of staff that operates the theatre, cinema, and box office. Aiming to re-establish itself as the cultural hub of Swanage, it has a combined programme of events consisting of over 200 movies each year and 60-100 nights of live theatre, comprising local schools, amateur societies, and incoming professional productions. More information at

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