Revealed - the extraordinary relationship between the world's premiere car-maker Rolls-Royce and Chichester Festival Theatre

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Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is celebrating 20 years as a leading supporter of the nearby Chichester Festival Theatre – a continuous relationship that dates from the start of motor car production at the Home of Rolls-Royce at Goodwood in 2003.

Rolls-Royce is one of a select group of Platinum Sponsors at the world-renowned theatre, which lies just a couple of miles from the marque’s Goodwood site.

Andrew Ball, Head of Corporate Relations and Heritage, at Rolls-Royce said: “This year we mark 20 years of hand-crafting motor cars at Goodwood, and throughout that time, we’ve enjoyed a wonderful relationship with our friends at Chichester Festival Theatre.

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"This acclaimed venue is one of our home city’s crown jewels. As one of just a handful of Platinum Sponsors, it’s our privilege and pleasure to support its wonderful work, both on its fabled stage and in the local community. Together, we represent two great Chichester institutions, with a shared commitment to championing creativity, community engagement and practising our respective arts at the very highest level.”

Rolls-Royce marks 20 years as a Platinum Sponsor of the internationally renowned Chichester Festival Theatre. Photo contributed by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars - Adam WarnerRolls-Royce marks 20 years as a Platinum Sponsor of the internationally renowned Chichester Festival Theatre. Photo contributed by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars - Adam Warner
Rolls-Royce marks 20 years as a Platinum Sponsor of the internationally renowned Chichester Festival Theatre. Photo contributed by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars - Adam Warner

Chichester Festival Theatre was founded in 1962, financed by donations from local businesses and individuals in an early example of what today would be called crowdfunding. The main auditorium seats up to 1,300 people, with a ‘thrust stage’ design equally suited to musicals and epic drama. A Grade II* Listed building, it underwent a comprehensive restoration in 2014.

The opening night was on 3 July 1962, under the artistic directorship of the legendary actor, Sir Laurence Olivier, and the company became the nucleus of his new National Theatre company. In the six decades since, many productions including musicals, new plays and classic revivals have transferred successfully to London’s West End and toured both nationally and internationally. Its flagship Festival Season runs from April to October and attracts almost a quarter of a million theatregoers annually; the Theatre also runs an extensive programme of workshops and events for the local community.

As a Platinum Sponsor, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is an important contributor to the Theatre’s artistic and outreach work, promoting the creativity and excellence that are central to the marque’s own values. The relationship also underlines the deep roots Rolls-Royce has established in the local community since it chose Chichester as the location for its new home in the early 2000s.

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In 2007, the partnership was recognised with a Sustainability Award from Arts & Business South East. The following year, Rolls-Royce’s beautiful, landscaped grounds provided a glorious setting for Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s open-air promenade show, Toad of Toad Hall.

Kathy Bourne, Executive Director of Chichester Festival Theatre, said: “Rolls-Royce is a leading light of Chichester’s business community and we’ve hugely valued the company’s generous sponsorship over the past 20 years, ever since the Goodwood-based manufacturing plant was first established. We share with Rolls-Royce a strong commitment to our local community and an international reputation for excellence, flying the flag for British expertise worldwide. We offer them our warmest congratulations on their 20th anniversary and our thanks for their ongoing support.”