Brewery Arts Centre

    • British Sea Power British Sea Power
    • Alan Davies Freerange Comedy Alan Davies Freerange Comedy
    • Right to Roam Right to Roam
    • Dance Platform Dance Platform
    • Adult Ed Adult Ed

What We Did Last Year


Last year’s music programme was one of the most exciting ever which saw some hugely popular artists taking the Malt Room stage.

Last year saw the Brewery pull major musical coups with two of the biggest names in Manchester music taking the Malt Room stage. 

Two of the biggest names in Manchester music in John Bramwell (I am Kloot) and Jimi Goodwin (Doves) played solo sets to packed houses with the latter performing tracks from a critically-acclaimed new album.

Pop fans enjoyed a gig from The South (who were formerly Beautiful) which attracted plenty of media attention with Border TV interviewing the band ahead of the sell-out concert.

Other prestigious names included Scottish songstress Eddi Reader of Fairground Attraction, rockers Big Country and Jam bassist Bruce Foxton with his new band From the Jam.

The undoubted highlight of the year was the gig from Kendal-born indie favourites British Sea Power.  1,000 rock fans from across the UK flocked to the new Factory cultural hub for their homecoming gig Sea of Brass featuring Ulverston Brass Band.


The year began in fine style with the annual feast of fun that is the Freerange Comedy Festival. Topping the bill were Omid Djalili and Matt Richardson while cult comedian Arthur Smith led a comedy ramble along the western shores of Windermere to the National Trust’s Wray Castle.

Freerange continues to go from strength-to-strength and has undoubtedly helped establish the Brewery as a must-visit venue for some of the UK’s top comedians.

The Brewery also cemented its relationship with Kendal Leisure Centre by putting on gig from Jason Manford which sold out the 900-capacity Westmorland Hall and there were packed houses back at the Brewery for Marcus Brigstocke and Chris Ramsey.

A diverse comedy programme really did have something for everyone with musical musings from Stuart Maconie and John Shuttleworth, multi-cultural observations courtesy of Hardeep Singh Kohli, literary laughs from Austentatious and even a routine built around the joys of Catholicism from Terry Christian.


Last year saw us lift the veil on our first ever Right to Roam festival which aimed to introduce an experimental “Edinburgh fringe” vibe to our theatre programme with shows performed in unusual spaces in and around the Brewery building.

The series of smaller, intimate shows enjoyed a positive response from theatre-goers and we’ll be looking to take it forward with a similar event this year.

One of the highlights of the year was Fuel Theatre’s This Last Tempest a special partnership project between the Brewery and Battersea Arts Centre.  Funded by the Arts Council and developed at the RSC after a premiere in Kendal, the production toured the UK promoting the Brewery’s name far and wide.

We also marked the centenary of the outbreak of The Great War with two themed productions The Trench and Not About Heroes, based on the lives of the famous War Poets.

There was also much to delight fans of comedy theatre with bawdy seaside story Kissing Sid James and the smash hit West End production Eric & Ern.


A fantastic year at the Brewery cinema box office despite experts acknowledging 2014/15 as the worst sales year in the industry for a decade.

Despite the paucity of marquee releases, the Brewery enjoyed excellent audiences for titles such as 50 Shades of Grey, Paddington and the final instalment of the Hobbit trilogy.

The cinema also had some excellent exposure on a national scale thanks to it being chosen as the venue for special gala screening of Postman Pat the Movie with star Stephen Mangan getting the red carpet treatment in the garden.

In July we rolled back the years with a special screening of the Lakeland set children’s adventure Swallows and Amazons.  Hundreds of fans of Arthur Ransome’s book, young and old, converged on the Brewery to meet actress Sophie Neville (Kitty from the film) who hosted the event.

Technical improvements were made to screens one and two to enable them to screen live shows from venues such as the Royal Opera House and we secured BFI funding to pay for a Film Audience Development Assistant who will head a project aimed at increasing the scope of our Warehouse Cinema programme.

Adult Ed

Our status as one of Cumbria Adult Educations flagship community learning centres was underlined with more than 1,600 enrolments over the year.

The introduction of short five-week courses proved hugely successful, providing learners with the opportunity to try a wider range of art forms and our most popular courses were life classes, print making, creative writing and sewing bee. 

We also saw an increase in students attending language courses, particularly Polish and Japanese.

Last year also saw the launch of our new painting weeks which saw dozens of aspiring artists taking part in workshops in the great outdoors at locations such as Tarn Hows, Coniston and the Lyth Valley.  These were a great success and something we will be taking forward in to the future.


Last year was a very busy and successful one for BYA across all art forms.

A proud moment was seeing our Brewery Young Actors Company perform A Shop Selling Speech in the Temporary Theatre at National Theatre in London as part of the National Theatre Connections festival.  

It was also fantastic to see emerging physical theatre company The Knotted Project, who came through the ranks at the Brewery, develop and perform Lonely Hearts which will go out on tour across the country.

Once again our popular Dance Platform events saw more than 800 young people from across the region take the Brewery stage for a feast of contemporary dance performance in front of packed houses.

Another highlight was the special Brakes and Beats project aimed to raise awareness of environmental issues through dance and beatboxing and the performance was powered by a ‘green’ bike generator in the Brewery Garden

Over at BYM, Voice Trax had a very full term during the autumn and La’al Sing continues to go from strength-to-strength. More than 300 children took part over two days last year and all of the places for 2015 were booked up by Christmas.

In the art rooms the Migration Project saw children and young people at schools across South Lakeland take part in a wide-raging visual arts project looking at the nature of human and avian migration which culminated in an exhibition in the Intro Bar.


It was a great year for lovers of all things lyrical. Verbalise, the monthly spoken word open mic night, had a great 12 months with the majority of the events selling out. The Warehouse Café welcomed a diverse range of performers and readers from the local area and further afield. Open mic performers are poets, novelists, storytellers and songwriters and up to 15 people took the mic at each event. We also had a range of guest performers ranging from page poets to songwriters including local author Simon Sylvester who won last year’s Guardian Not the Booker Prize with his crime novel The Visitors. The Brewery Poets also held a special night commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of WW1 reading poems of remembrance.


As well as our own extensive programme of arts and events, The Brewery played host to four major festivals.

The positive impact these festivals have In terms of exposing local residents to quality cultural events and boosting the local economy cannot be underestimated.  

The Breweryís own fourth Freerange Comedy Festival took place in May 2014 with a sparkling line up which included Omid Djalili, Matt Richardson and Paul Chowdhry' Our famous ìfreerangingî outdoor events saw Bob Slayer entertaining a crowd at Cathedral Cavern in Langdale and Arthur Smith lead comedy ramble along the banks of Windermere to Wray Castle.

The Brewery reprised its role as a founder partner of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival and hosted a major exhibition of the work of comic artist Doug Braithwaite.  Thousands of people also enjoyed three days of book signings, masterclasses, demonstrations and films from stellar names of the comic art world such as The Watchmen's Dave Gibbons.

November saw the Brewery hit the heights with the annual celebration of outdoor culture that is Kendal Mountain Festival and embrace all things culinary by holding a beer festival and show from renowned food critic and raconteur Jay Rayner as part of the Kendal Food Festival.

Vis arts

2014 saw the return of our Open Up North competition which saw hundreds of entries form artists across the region.  The culmination of the event was a major exhibition of work in five gallery spaces across Kendal and the identification of three talented “emerging artists” who were selected to take part in a year-long mentoring programme at Castlefield Gallery in Manchester.

The Brewery’s three galleries played host to a diverse and interesting programme of exhibitions form established and up-and-coming artists.

Highlights in the Sugar Store included a jointly commissioned project with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival which saw comic artist Oliver East chart a long-distance walk along the railway lines from Arnside to Carlisle.

An innovative exhibition of landscape photography using Victorian techniques by Alex Boyd proved popular as did Anna Lambert’s ceramics which did roaring trade in terms of sales.

The Intro Bar and Warehouse Café also hosted varied exhibitions of work form local artists as well as members of our Adult Education and Brewery Youth Arts programmes.

Kendal Catering Company

2014/15 has been characterized by strong sales and innovative developments in the food & drink offer at The Brewery. An increasing variety of foodie events, offers, new menu items and collaborations with local suppliers have  helped The Brewery grow its reputation as a great venue for quality food & drink.

Events like our festival of local ales, part of the Kendal Festival of Food, our wine tasting suppers with Stainton Wines and our beer and food matching dinner with the Hardknott Brewery have all been superbly supported and well received.

KCC’s main drive is to increase sales and increase profitability in 2015/16 by focussing on; Customer service, developing our stand-alone food & drink clientele and continuing to deliver attractive events, offers and promotions.

Lakes Tickets

Last year saw the launch of Lakes Tickets, the Brewery’s own ticket service for events and festivals in the area.

The scheme saw the Brewery provide box office facilities, website and marketing support for a number of local events including the Bowness Bay Blues festival, Kendal Town FC New Year’s Eve Party, Westmorland Orchestra and More Music Morecambe.

The service grew throughout the year and there are now around 10 events listed under Lakes Tickets on the Brewery website.

It also earned around £16 

Chair John McGovern

Over my nine years as a Trustee, I have taken every opportunity, during my travels, to visit arts centres in other towns and cities and I have yet to find anywhere that compares with the Brewery in terms of its impact and value for money.

 It is remarkable that a town the size of Kendal is able to offer to the people in the region and beyond the range and quality of arts activity described in this review. Some of the numbers are breath-taking: more than 700 participating in adult learning; 36 Visual Arts Exhibitions; 88,000 people attending the cinema and more than 29,000 people attending 250 live performances in theatre, comedy, dance and music. What makes this truly remarkable is that the Brewery itself manages to generate over 85% of the revenue that supports this level of activity.

We must, however, acknowledge the support of Arts Council England, South Lakeland District Council, Kendal Town Council and a wide range of trusts and foundations for their continued belief in and support for the Brewery, especially in these straitened times.

Equally we owe a debt of gratitude to the often unsung volunteers who give up their time and offer their skills to support the Brewery. But the real thanks must go to the staff working across the organisation. They are a dedicated, generous and hard working group of people who manage, year after year, to enhance the quality of all of our lives through the creation of so many memorable experiences.

CEO Richard Foster

Creating memorable experiences within the arts is at the heart of the Brewery’s mission. However the past year has also highlighted the role the centre can make in transforming the lives of individuals and impact on the prosperity of the town and region.

The Brewery continues to offer hundreds of young people each week experiences that expand upon the rigid learning of the national curriculum and a range of special projects like The Migration Project and Hot Potato that have worked with partners across the region to tackle issues like young people’s mental health, in unique ways.

Equally our adult learning programme seeks to address issues like rural isolation and our forthcoming scheme of activity for those living with dementia aims to support Kendal Town Council in its age friendly initiative.

In the last year Kendal Futures, SLDC and Kendal Town Council have all published development strategies that identify the Brewery as a key asset in increasing the town’s prosperity through cultural tourism and encouraging the relocation of businesses to a town made distinctive by its arts and festival offer.

We are also spearheading the Cultural Destinations project on behalf of a consortium of southern and central Lakes venues which aims to seek to cement and increase that impact in the coming years.