The Mowlem Theatre was opened in 1967 and replaced the smaller original Victorian building which had stood for over 100 years. It can seat up to 400 patrons in the stalls and circle and is situated on the sea front at Swanage at the junction of two of the main shopping streets. It has a combined programme of typically, over 200 film performances each year in addition to 60-100 nights of live theatre.
Within the building there is the Fortes Ice Cream parlour and coffee shop. The new Mowlem Bar and Restaurant now called “The View”, opened with new tenant Tracey Thorne on 12th February and is open all day as well as providing a bar for the theatre.
The Mowlem Theatre is an independent venue run by Trustees of The Mowlem Institute Charity (reg. charity 243486) and receives no grant or subsidy from the Town, District or County Councils. It derives income from letting out the shops, bars and restaurant as well as from the function room, cinema and live theatre.
In 2003 the lift was replaced and enlarged to improve wheelchair access at a cost in excess of £65,000 and this is being complemented by an upgrade of the toilet facilities for disabled persons and will be followed by a refurbishment of the foyer and ground floor circulation area. All the costs have been met from revenue and donations from support groups.
The revenue generated from income received covers the necessary running costs involved in keeping The Mowlem available to people in promoting entertainment and making the theatre available to local schools and amateur societies as well as incoming professional productions.
The theatre has a team of ten part time, and one dedicated full time staff, who support the trustees and keep the venue open year round.