Pentabus Theatre

Amount Given:

£90,000 over 36 months (grant made in 2014)


Organisations at a pivotal point

Pentabus credit Richard Stanton

Laurence Scott,

Grants Manager, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation


We supported Pentabus as rural areas are poorly served by mainstream cultural offerings. Audiences are often disenfranchised by geography - only 42% of rural communities have access to regular, usable public transport services, making access to the arts in nearby towns and cities difficult. Pentabus provides a solution as it creates high-quality, original theatre that is delivered in village halls, barns, pubs, fields and theatres in small towns.

Pentabus was at a pivotal point in its development, seeking to increase its production and touring capacity substantially. The work also fits with our interest in supporting new artistic talent, as it particularly champions the work of new and emerging writers from rural communities.

Elizabeth Freestone,

Artistic Director, Pentabus Theatre




Our mission is to share contemporary rural theatre – theatre that interrogates the reality of living in the countryside in the 21st century – with the UK’s geographically-isolated individuals and rural communities, those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to new and exceptional arts provision. Our work tours to village halls – the very heart of a community – where it can do its work: challenge assumptions, spark debate, foster social cohesion, inspire, delight and move.

With the Foundation’s support we’ve been able to increase our audience engagement, develop closer links with venue promoters nationwide, and mount longer, better and more ambitious tours as a direct result of increased staff capacity. For the first time in the company’s history we’re better equipped to tour the length and breadth of Britain, from Land’s End to the Hebridean Islands, enabling us to take great strides towards fulfilling our ambition of becoming the nation’s rural theatre company.

Liz Hyder,

Audience Member


Pentabus amaze, surprise and inspire me.  Their work is consistently ambitious, creative and thought-provoking. It can range from an unbelievably uplifting show about dealing with depression to an adaptation of Malcolm Saville’s neglected children’s books, bringing their peppy wit and connection with the outdoors to a new generation.

On a small budget, this rural theatre company based in the wilds of the West Midlands engage, connect and delight audiences across the country, punching well above their weight.

There are few theatre companies that would take such risks, that would create, programme and invest in the range that Pentabus do. Their name is a hallmark of quality, thought provoking and outstanding theatre. And from tiny tents to fully-fledged auditoriums, I hope they’ll be inspiring theatre goers for many more generations.