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Arts & Theatre

Arts & Theatre

Oxford may not be one of the country’s biggest cities, but its steady student population and rich history have packed it with cultural venues and performances for locals and visitors alike. The city has an impressive number of theatre and performance spaces alongside a small selection of top-class art galleries and museums. Here are some of our favourite picks…
 
Oxford’s biggest commercial theatre is New Theatre Oxford, which puts on a wide variety of shows right in the city centre. It was best known historically for its annual pantomimes that attracted many leading lights of the British stage. These days, the performances range from musicals to stand-up comedy and concerts. Meanwhile, the Oxford Playhouse goes in for more traditional theatre, balancing new productions with classics. It also pays special attention to young people on both sides of the stage, with regular children’s plays and productions from their youth group. The Pegasus Theatre amplifies the focus on young people, engaging and sparking the imaginations of younger audiences from small children to teenagers and students.
 
The alternative performance scenes are catered for by Oxford’s offbeat venues such as the Old Fire Station. This new arts space houses a shop, gallery, theatre, dance studios and workshops, with a desire to achieve a positive impact in the community and unlock the potential for art to change lives. From comedy to family shows, spoken word to dance, this is truly an arts centre with something for everyone. If that wasn’t enough, the city has recently seen the opening of dedicated comedy space Glee Club above Wahoo Bar, which caters for touring comedians including regular big-name shows.
 
If you’re looking for fine art of world-renowned quality, there’s only place for you – The Ashmolean. This museum of art and archaeology, part of the University, was founded in 1683. It contains drawings by renaissance masters and paintings by many of the world’s greatest artists alongside famous collections of Minoan and Roman antiquities. They also have a few items connected to celebrities of bygone ages – Oliver Cromwell’s death mask, for example, or one of Lawrence of Arabia’s ceremonial Arab garments.
 
The Ashmolean may be Oxford’s most famous gallery, but it isn’t the only one. Modern Art Oxford has been bringing striking new exhibitions to the city for more than fifty years, while Christ Church Picture Gallery has an important collection of Old Master paintings and drawings in its beautiful purpose-built gallery. If you want to discover the work of local artists, keep your eyes open for the Oxfordshire Art Weeks Festival which takes place annually and runs an Open Studios event around Oxford and the surrounding area. On top of that, the many colleges of Oxford University host performance and arts events throughout the year, such as the annual Turl Street Arts Festival or the Degree Shows at the Ruskin School of Fine Art.

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