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On the 5th May at 18:00, Exeter Northcott Theatre will be hosting their ‘The Impact of Women’ event that will explore the stories of women found in the theatre’s archive collection.

The live streamed event will feature a panel of women who are developing Exeter’s current arts and cultural landscape. The panel will look at the stories that have been discovered in the archive and how the knowledge collected can be used to shape the future culture of Exeter and the South West. This is the first of a series of events led by Exeter Northcott that will be coming later this year.

The project began last Spring, with a team of interns from the University of Exeter delving into the Northcott’s archive. They uncovered fascinating and provocative themes from the collection, the first of which will form the basis of this event — exploring the impact of women on the history of the theatre.

The event will be led by three speakers and will include a Q&A section. Natalie McGrath, writer and Co-Director of Dreadnought South West, an organisation that connects individuals and communities through the telling and keeping of great and courageous stories about women’s activism, will chair the panel. Natalie will be joined by Rachel Vowles, an Arts Education and Community Engagement professional that is renowned for her work with community productions during her time at the Northcott in the 90s and 00s and Sandhya Dave, a well-known cultural champion in Exeter and Devon, working specifically in diversity and inclusion and leading anti-racism work in the region.

The Northcott archive is full of press cuttings that demonstrate how women have been drawing media attention for the Exeter Northcott since its opening. Whole folders found that were full of clippings extracted from newspapers, provided insight into how the theatre has been represented in the contemporary press. These span the years since the theatre’s opening and allow a thorough view of the theatre and its impact on the local community through local reporting, as well as a wider impact when the theatre also attracted national attention. Most significantly, they show that women’s impact at the Exeter Northcott has been varied, and throughout the archive, stories reveal how women have been pivotal to the theatre’s development.

Ahead of the event, Natalie McGrath stated that, “whilst also acting as portals to activate change for the future, I’m really excited to be working with Sophie McCormack (Northcott Heritage Manager) on this panel about women in theatre at Exeter Northcott, celebrating those who have paved the way, whilst enabling us to consider how to be inclusive of all women’s voices into the future.”

Rachel Vowles said that she is thrilled to be part of the panel and that she is very much looking forward to discussing the enormous challenges faced by women in theatre: “I also hope to have the opportunity to celebrate and champion some of the women (many unseen) who have been a part of the Northcott’s long history.”

The event is free and tickets can be purchased via:

To learn more about the Exeter Northcott Theatre, see: and follow @ExeterNorthcott on Twitter for updates pertaining to the event.