• Stirling’s cultural hub, Macrobert Arts Centre, reopened for touring live performances on Saturday 29 January 2022.
• 50th Anniversary celebrations will be taking place across the year, after delays caused by the pandemic.
• Matilda Hall exhibition will be the first highlight of the 50th Anniversary season, with an incredible collection of art on display for the public to view in Macrobert for free from 31 January – 28 May 2022.
• Spring 2022 programme also features the best in touring comedy, theatre, music and dance.
• Event cinema from The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera and National Theatre Live will delight Stirling’s arts and film fanatics
• 50th Anniversary celebrations will come to a spectacular close in September 2022 with A Mother’s Song – In Concert
• Stirling is the sole Scottish bid to make the longlist for UK City of Culture 2025, with Macrobert central to the city’s bid and cultural identity

Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling’s cultural hub, is at last celebrating its monumental 50th Anniversary year after the pandemic postponed celebrations due to start in September 2021. With a programme of events running until September 2022, the venue will be welcoming audiences back for comedy, theatre, music and visual arts, as well as engaging the community in a range of cultural initiatives.

The 50th anniversary comes at a time which also sees Stirling as the only Scottish city in the running to become UK City of Culture 2025. Culture in Stirling is characterised by collaboration, with all the main arts, heritage and cultural organisations working together under Scene Stirling involved in the bid. Macrobert Arts Centre is working alongside these fantastic organisations to break down barriers to the arts, aiming to create a place where art is part of the everyday and has real social purpose.

Central to the anniversary celebrations will be the exhibition A Passion for Art: Matilda Hall, Collector and Curator from Mon 31 Jan – Sat 28 May 2022. Matilda Hall has been a collector and supporter of Scottish art for over fifty years. As P.A. to the University of Stirling’s first Principal Tom Cottrell, she helped to collect for the university and later was integral to the founding of charity Art in Healthcare. This exhibition features works from collections influenced by her, focusing upon the Art in Healthcare Collection, the University of Stirling Collection and Matilda’s personal collection. Highlights include works by Joan Eardley, Eduardo Paolozzi and Janka Malkowska. The exhibition will be free and open to all.

Macrobert’s 50th anniversary celebrations will be brought to a spectacular close at the end of September with A Mother’s Song – in concert. A cast of West End performers and some of Scotland’s best folk musicians will present a night of songs from new musical A Mother’s Song. Themes of identity, motherhood and choice collide in this bold and life-affirming story which follows three remarkable women at different times in history, and traces the incredible journey of Scottish folk music across the Atlantic. Created by award-winning composer Finn Anderson (Islander), and award-winning director Tania Azevedo, A Mother’s Song was originally commissioned by the American Music Theatre Project and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Since then, is has been developed through a 4-week residency in Chicago with American Music Theatre Project. This concert is the final step on its journey to the stage and is sure to be a monumental and uplifting finale to Macrobert’s 50th anniversary year.

Spring 2022 meanwhile will see a fantastic range of touring productions lighting up the Macrobert stage. Audience members have already been welcomed back into the venue and those who waited to see Mark Thomas: 50 Things About Us since March 2020 were finally rewarded with a night of brilliant comedy on Saturday 29 January.

Theatre highlights include Gillian Duffy’s hit comedy The Ghosting of Rabbie Burns, the incredibly moving The Gardener, Tony Award-winning musical masterpiece A Night in the Ukraine, futuristic sensory extravaganza 2065, Friends! The Musical Parody, Two’s Company by Gillian Duffy and A Number by Caryl Churchill. Gordon Buchanan, one of the most prominent wildlife presenters and filmmakers working today, is also celebrating an anniversary this year. He will be back in Macrobert on his Anniversary Tour to talk about 30 Years in the Wild.

Rubber Chicken will be back at Macrobert in February for another Guinness World Record attempt for Fastest Theatrical Production. With just 10 hours from finding out the show title to curtain up, this promises to be an amazing and unique night at the theatre.

Comedians raising laughs at Macrobert this spring include Gayle Telfer Stevens (River City) and Louise McCarthy (The Scotts) as The Dolls in Rerr Terr Variety Show, and Patrick Monahan in Started from the Bottom, Now I’m here. Ed Byrne will be touring to Macrobert with his show If I’m Honest, one of the breakout stars of Scottish comedy Gary Faulds will be performing his brand new solo show, Jack Docherty will be delighting audiences with his love letter to Edinburgh, the Fringe and summer rain, Nothing But, and the legendary Larry Dean will be making his way to Stirling on his Fudnut Tour.

Showcasing the best in Stirling’s local community, Stirling’s Scouts & Guides return to Macrobert with their 25th Anniversary Stirling Gang Show. The Gang, mainly comprising of local youngsters, will once again be performing a show that is suitable for the whole family. Stirling and Bridge of Allan Operatic Society will perform Nunsense, a hilarious musical farce about a group of motely nuns., and Monument Dance are back with ‘Avengence’ in 2022 with Heroes and Villains, a ‘Marvel’ous dance spectacle showcasing the superpowers of this hugely talented young cast of performers.

Families can come to Macrobert this Spring to enjoy You Choose, based on the brilliant book by Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt, Olivier Award nominated Oi Frog & Friends!, and the cast of FUNBOX (formerly of The Singing Kettle) in FUNBOX: Jungle Party. Families can also follow Alice down the rabbit hole and discover the magical world of the orchestra in Children’s Classic Concerts – Wonderland. Roald Dahl’s The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar is brought to the UK stage for the first time in a breath-taking new show, and will be bringing magic, illusion and the unexpected to Macrobert this April.

In live music, Horse returns to Macrobert to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her first album – The Same Sky. Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham, who have established themselves as the epitome of excellence in the world of traditional music, will also be delighting audiences at Macrobert this Spring.

Event cinema from The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet and National Theatre Live includes Tosca, Romeo and Juliet, Rigoletto, La Traviata, Swan Lake Leopoldstadt, The Book of Dust and Henry V.

With more 50th anniversary events to be announced in due course, this spectacular season of live entertainment will be a joy to audiences of all ages.

Continuing in their Community Engagement work, Macrobert is expanding outside of the University of Stirling and is offering a range of classes and workshops in the Thistles Shopping Centre in the heart of Stirling. Having opened its doors to the public in the centre of the city for the first time on Friday 4 February, Macrobert’s City Hub is offering a range of classes and workshops catering to all age ranges, with dance, drama, visual art and film classes available. The new unit also hosts a box office where visitors to the Thistles can also purchase tickets for upcoming performances at Macrobert.

Julie Ellen, Artistic Director of Macrobert Arts Centre said: “It is a real pleasure to be presenting such an exciting programme for Spring 2022 and for our 50th Anniversary celebrations. In the past two years we have presented a range of our work, in many different forms, doing our very best to bring our audiences as much of the arts and entertainment they love as we could. We are truly grateful to all of those who took part, tuned in or turned up to those events, also to my colleagues who kept Macrobert Arts Centre going when we were closed, and made the venue safe for everyone when we could re-open. The artists and companies who light up our screens and stages with their vibrant creativity have had an extremely difficult time so we are delighted that many of them will join us for the first part of 2022. To get us off to a joy filled start there are comedians, comedies and entertainment galore, including fabulous family shows – there’s a guaranteed laugh for everyone. There’s also excellent drama, musical theatre and live music gigs, a wonderful range of the best of performing arts for you all to enjoy. We have all been waiting for some of these performances since March 2020 and I cannot tell how much everyone here is looking forward to welcoming audiences back in.”

Matilda Hall, said: “It’s very important to me that works of art in this University continue to be looked after, cherished and used. The new Macrobert Arts Centre looks extremely handsome and I find the whole of the space is now most exciting to show works of art I’ve been connected with, coming either from my home or belonging to Paintings in Hospitals, a charity which I set up in 1992 now called Art in Healthcare. I want to make certain not only that the University cherishes its collection, but that art in healthcare is noticed and appreciated and more hospitals put works of art into their corridors.  I’m delighted they are finally coming together in this exhibition featuring a selection of interesting work including The Hole by Andy Goldsworthy, a splendid piece by Alan Davie and I’m also very fortunate to share work by Joan Eardley from my personal collection.  They are rather valuable but whilst value comes and goes, for the moment they hang here for everybody’s delight.”

Jane Cameron, Curator of the University of Stirling’s Art Collection, said: “Macrobert is 50 years old this year and we are very pleased to be exhibiting work from the University’s collection during this very important time. The exhibition focuses around the same passion for art that Matilda Hall has for the collection; Matilda was one of the first employees at the University in 1967 and later became the honorary first curator so it was thanks to her efforts, as well as the visions of Tom Cottrell and Lord Robin, that we have a contemporary art collection of such significance today.  Their vision for the campus was that art and culture should be very much part of the everyday experience for students coming to campus; they wanted to educate cultural individuals not just specialists.

I made contact with Matilda very early on and she’s been a constant ally and supporter of what we’ve been doing subsequently, she’s still as passionate about art and educating people through art as she was in 1967. I think it’s really important that the University is seen to be a cultural destination which is why we’re all working so closely together to promote it not just as an institution of education, but a community space offering sport, science and culture.”

Laura Mackenzie-Stuart, Head of Theatre at Creative Scotland said: The 50th anniversary of the Macrobert is shaping up to be a tremendous celebration of the breadth and strength of creativity in Scotland.  What a wonderful way to re-open the doors to audiences eager to return to live performances of theatre, music and dance.  We wish everyone great success with the programme.”