Arcola Outside - Arcola Theatre

A new outdoor performance space. 
A new fully-stocked open-air bar.
A new creative hub in the heart of Dalston. 
Everything you love about Arcola – now outside.

We’re excited to share our plans to build Arcola Outside, a brand-new outdoor performance space and bar in the heart of Dalston, designed by multi-award-winning stage designer Jon Bausor (London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony, Bat Out of Hell: The Musical, The Grinning Man), and built by a team of freelance theatre and live events technicians.

The new space will be built on a site near the theatre’s main building on Ashwin Street, formerly home to the Arcola Tent between 2011 and 2014. It will reimagine Arcola’s performance spaces and bar, bringing them together under a giant roof.

The Arcola team caught up with Immediate Theatre recently to talk about the conception and creation of Arcola Outside. First broadcast via Resonance FM on 6 January 2021, produced by Neil McKeown for Hackney Social Radio.

Significantly reduced Covid risk

The health and safety of our audiences, artists and staff is an absolute priority for us. Arcola was one of the first theatres to close in March, to avoid contributing to the spread of Covid-19. By going outside, we are significantly reducing the risk of airborne transmission of the virus. By creating more space for social distancing, we are significantly reducing the risk of droplet transmission too.

An artistic hub

We are likely to be living with Covid-19 for some time, and it’s so important that we find new and safer ways of working. Arcola Outside will enable us to welcome audiences back, and to create new opportunities for freelance artists and workers. It will be a flexible, multi-purpose space, able to host live performances, screenings, installations and more.


Arcola Outside will be covered by a giant roof structure, offering protection from the weather whilst maintaining excellent airflow.

Open to all

In the heart of Dalston, for everyone in our community. Under current Tier 2 restrictions, Arcola Outside will allow groups (of up to 6 people) to meet even if they are from different households.

design sketch of audiences in the new Arcola Outside space


Arcola Outside will continue our longstanding commitment to environmental sustainability. It will include significant use of reclaimed and recycled materials, and will feature planters to create a green environment and ensure social distancing.

Make it Happen

For six months, Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on Arcola Theatre and the whole of the arts ecology. We’ve got a plan to ensure Arcola survives:

  1. Create Arcola Outside, our new outdoor artistic hub and community space
  2. Restart shows, including a Hackney-wide festival in 2021 to provide opportunities for the freelance artists and workers who are vital to our industry
  3. Prepare to reopen our main building safely, working with scientists from leading universities

Arcola Theatre is a registered charity, and any donation – large or small – will ensure that our theatre stays thriving.

Name a Bench

As part of the design plans, we’re creating seating in our new venue for groups to meet and watch shows and enjoy drinks with full 2 metre social distancing and the full airflow benefits of an outdoor environment. We’re inviting friends of Arcola to name a bench to help to support Arcola Outside.

For £500 (the cost of a bench), you will get:
• A personalised plaque on a bench for at least two years
• Named acknowledgement in our Arcola Outside programmes for 2021
• Named acknowledgment on the Arcola website
• A tweet to Arcola’s 60,000 followers

Terms and conditions apply.

If you’d like to discuss other options for supporting the project, please contact Jack Gamble (Associate Director) –

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