A Rich &
Storied Past

Aberdeen Arts Centre has been part of the fabric of Aberdeen life for 60+ years, and the building we call home has been a prominent presence in the city centre for even longer than that.

From the original construction of the North Parish Church in the 19th century, to the Arts Centre's emergence in the 1960s, to the local community securing its future at the eve of the millennium, to its modern existence as an inclusive arts venue and registered charity — there's a rich and storied past behind Aberdeen Arts Centre.

It's this unique heritage and the work of many before us that inspire the whole team as we continue our mission to nurture creativity and champion the performing arts in the North East of Scotland.


North Parish Church Opens

Aberdeen's City Architect John Smith designed this new church in the parish of St Nicholas and construction began in 1828. Bearing a resemblance to St Pancras Parish Church in London, and built to accommodate over 1700 parishioners, the church was opened in June 1831. 

It remained in use for over 120 years.


Aberdeen Children's Theatre Established

Pioneering speech therapist Catherine Hollingworth OBE established Aberdeen Children's Theatre at 31 King Street, Aberdeen — round the corner from where Aberdeen Arts Centre would be established 20 years later. 

The first theatre of its kind in the UK, it was a place where children could express their creativity, free from the supervision and instruction of teachers and parents. 


Building Converted to Arts Centre

The church was closed in the 1950s and much work was done to convert it into an Arts Centre venue. The £53,000 renovation provided a proscenium arch theatre on the first floor and meeting rooms on the ground floor. 

This was a landmark piece of work — the first venue of its kind in Scotland — and the Arts Centre opened in 1963. Run by the City Council, it served the local community in this capacity until the late 1990s.

1960s / 1970s / 1980s / 1990s

Share Memories of Aberdeen Arts Centre

We're undertaking a very exciting project — organising and rebuilding our archives from across Aberdeen Arts Centre's 60 year history — and we need your help! 

Do you have memories (childhood or adulthood ones!) of attending shows, participating in productions or enjoying a night out at Aberdeen Arts Centre? Share your memories with us at memories@aberdeenartscentre.com


Local Community Saves the Arts Centre

In 1998, core funding was removed from the Aberdeen Arts Centre and after 35 years of operation the venue was under real threat of imminent closure. Thankfully, Aberdeen refused to accept this.

The Aberdeen Arts Centre Association, led by Annie Inglis (MBE), was established to ‘Save the Arts Centre’ and in 1999 Castlegate Arts Limited (CAL) was founded to support the building’s vital creative activity.


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