Ipswich theatre adds restoration levy to ticket prices

27 Jun 2023

Ipswich Regent Theatre will begin charging a restoration levy of £1.50 per ticket to fund a planned £3m refurbishment.

The additional cost will be added to all tickets priced over £10, with the money raised going towards funding the theatre’s improvement and upkeep. 

Plans for the refurbishment include improving disabled access and modernising and increasing the venue’s toilet provision, including the installation of a new onsite changing places facility.

The bar area will be extended and the Circle Lounge fully refurbished. The project also aims to restore some of the almost century-old building's original art deco features.

“The investment is required to ensure that the facilities are modernised so that customers receive the very best experience,” said Sophie Connelly, Ipswich Borough Council portfolio holder for culture and customers.

The theatre last underwent an upgrade in 2014. Permission was granted for new dressing room facilities, catering and wardrobe space in 2022. 

Young V&A museum to reopen after £13m upgrade

27 Jun 2023

The Victoria and Albert museum dedicated to children and young people will reopen to the public on 1 July, following a three-year closure and £13m refurbishment.

Young V&A – formerly known as the V&A Museum of Childhood – features over 2,000 objects dating from 2300BC to the present day. They are displayed across three new galleries: Design, Imagination and Play.

The range of different zones include an open design studio, a games design space for teenagers and an interactive Minecraft installation in the Play zone.

The museum, located in Bethnal Green, caters for children aged up to 14 and could help to fill the gaps in state school cultural provisions, said Tristram Hunt, the V&A’s Director.

“The V&A believes in the transformative power of creativity, and it’s critical we work to support and develop the next creative generation,” he said.

“The optimistic and transformative power of creativity radiates through Young V&A and we cannot wait to unleash it upon our teenagers to toddlers.”

The museum is free to enter and will run a programme of events and themed exhibitions throughout the year, beginning in October with an exploration of the influence of Japanese history and folklore on popular culture, technology and design.

Trafalgar Theatres seal Fareham Live contract

19 Jun 2023

Trafalgar Entertainment has been awarded the contract to operate Fareham Live by Fareham Borough Council. 

The company, which launched its Trafalgar Theatres division in 2021, now operates a total of 18 venues.

Currently under construction on the site of Ferneham Hall, Fareham Live will launch next year as part of the council’s multi-million-pound plans to redevelop the civic quarter and regenerate the Town Centre.

The new venue will feature a larger main auditorium with seating for around 800 people. A secondary performance space, new bar and cafe area, and studio space supporting community groups and organisations will also form part of the new building. 

Sue Walker, Executive Member for Leisure and Community at Fareham Borough Council, said: “I am very pleased that Trafalgar Theatres has been selected as the new operator at Fareham Live. 

“They bring with them a wealth of experience and they pride themselves in gathering an in-depth understanding of the locations in which they operate, respecting local priorities while delivering innovation and adding value. We are really looking forward to working together.”

Dame Rosemary Squire, Joint Co-Founder and CEO of Trafalgar Entertainment, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Fareham Borough Council has awarded Trafalgar Entertainment the contract to operate Fareham Live in this beautiful part of the country. 

"We admire the council’s ambitions for the town and look forward to working in partnership with the Leisure and Community team on the future development of Fareham Live.”

Plans for arts and wellness centre in Bournemouth take shape

23 May 2023

A former amusement arcade in Bournemouth will be turned into a new centre for art, food and wellness under plans unveiled this week.

The proposals for the Art Deco 'Happyland' building, which originally opened as a bathing station in 1939, have been put forward by Bournemouth-born artist Stuart Semple and architect Madeleine Kessler.

Semple, who in 2021 launched the 15,000 square foot artist-led gallery, Giant, in the town, intends to create two ground-floor art gallery spaces, a first-floor health and wellness centre, and a roof-top restaurant and bar.

Partners for the project include The Meyrick Estate – which already has two wellness retreats in The New Forest and Anglesea – and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council. 

Semple said: "Happyland is at its heart a beautiful building, but the beauty is hidden in plain sight. I love the idea of bringing it back to life, repurposing it and giving it a new use for the people of Bournemouth and our visitors.

"It’s incredible how the town has embraced art, and for Giant to be expanding into another space where we can take the art to more people is wonderful."

Contemporary arts space opens in Nottingham city centre

22 May 2023

A contemporary arts organisation has become the guardian of a vacant-four storey building in Nottingham’s city centre.

OTOKA, which translates to island in Croatian, is located in the home of a former Clarks shoe shop.

The new space launched a programme of events last Thursday (18 May), set to feature art exhibitions and creative projects.

Working in partnership with East Street Arts, OTOKO will be working towards taking on as many empty spaces in the city as possible to help provide new opportunities for artists in the area.

Director Candice Jacobs said the latest project will “re-enliven the High Street with exhibitions, events, performance and public art works that show what can be possible when artists take on these empty spaces to nurture the inclusivity, diversity & the ambition of its communities”.

“In this new space OTOKA will be supporting the work of local, national & international artists, local businesses, students and graduates,” Jacobs added.

“As well as putting on exhibitions and events, we’ll be providing studios and taking advantage of the building’s cornered frontage to curate window displays and public art projects for the area.”

Plans for Kent concert venue 'not dead' despite ENO snub

15 May 2023

A multi-millionaire businessman has said plans for a 1,600-seater venue in Kent are “not dead yet”, despite an offer to occupy the proposed premises being snubbed by English National Opera.

Paul Gregg wants to transform a town centre car park and former Mecca bingo hall in Ashford into a venue that could accommodate West End shows.

The proposed venue would cost "in the region of £9 million", and Gregg is looking for investment from site owner ABC and Kent County Council.

Having met with ENO's chief executive, Gregg had hoped that the opera company, which is being forced to relocate from London by Arts Council England, would be attracted to the town by his Ashford LIVE venue.

However, ENO has announced that it is considering Birmingham, Bristol, Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Nottingham for its new home.

Gregg said: "It doesn’t change anything – everything will stay as it is. I think ENO would have been ideally placed in Kent because the north is too far away."

Museum of London relocation hit by spiralling costs

A computer-generated image of the new Museum of London site
04 May 2023

Funding of £73m has been released to allow redevelopment of new premises to begin, but project has been hit by rising costs and elements of the work will be delayed by two years.

Derbyshire theatre unveils expansion plans

04 May 2023

Plans have been announced to transform a Grade II-listed theatre in Glossop, Derbyshire.

Partington Theatre has said it is hoping to purchase the vacant former NatWest Bank which sits next-door to the venue in the centre of the town.

The Manchester Evening News reports that the bank closed two months ago, but the theatre wants to bring it back into use as a performing arts centre, including new facilities for thespians, musicians and the wider community.

Mark McDonough, Chairman of the board of trustees for the theatre, said: “Purchasing this building would see our little theatre expand with more community space, rehearsal and storage areas, and most importantly make the theatre truly accessible to all. 

"This is a very exciting opportunity which would make a huge difference to not just the theatre and its patrons, but to the entire Glossop community.”

Levelling Up grant funds pop-up arts venue in Hull

03 May 2023

A pop-up arts and culture venue is to be created in Humber Street after receiving Levelling Up funding from Hull City Council.

The council awarded a grant of £76,418.82 to Fruit Market LLP to help bring a heritage building on Humber Street back into use.

It will be used as a pop-up space for the local arts and cultural scene.

The grant will fund renovations to the building, including the installation of a new shop front and a new roof, an upgraded interior, cladding to the walls, installation of heating and cooling systems, plumbing works and the fitting of fire systems and fire doors, Hull CC News reported.

“The council is delighted to be able to award this funding to Fruit Market LLP,” said Garry Taylor, Assistant Director for Major Projects, Culture and Place at Hull City Council.

“It’s pleasing to see another unused building being brought back into use, whilst also supporting the city’s flourishing arts and culture scene.”

Plans for £10m Horniman Museum upgrade submitted

An artists' impression of new development in previously underused parts of the museum estate
02 May 2023

The museum's transformation will include a focus on improving accessibility and thermal performance.

Arts funding in the Carolean era

Southbank Centre
24 Apr 2023

London’s South Bank has been an extraordinarily successful regeneration story. Elaine Bedell thinks it’s now time for a new era of regeneration of the arts.

ACE seeks 'urgent' talks on future of Bristol Beacon

The exterior of Bristol Beacon
20 Apr 2023

Concerns raised about the future of trust operating Bristol Beacon, as soaring refurbishment costs prompt the city's council to explore 'alternative delivery models' in order to make back some of its investment.

Kilburn Library in need of major refurbishment

19 Apr 2023

Kilburn Library in Brent is in need of a £765,000 refurbishment to tackle structural concerns about the building, according to council sources.

Both the building and the garden have been described as “in a poor state” by Brent Council’s Corporate Director of Resident Services, amid concerns that further damage to the building may cause it to become “increasingly unsafe”.

“If the Library Service doesn’t act now… then the long-term future of Kilburn Library may be jeopardised,” warned a council report on the library’s condition.

It added that “the building itself may need partial closure if structural problems are not addressed quickly. If no investment is put into the current facilities the condition will decline further.”

Damage to the structure includes large cracks, My London reported.

The necessary refurbishments are expected to cost £765,000. The library has been awarded a £231,000 grant from Arts Council England’s Library Improvement Fund, leaving £534,000 currently outstanding.

If the project goes head, work will begin in November, with reopening set for April 2024. The council is negotiating a temporary move to The Granville, a local community building in South Kilburn in the interim.

As well as tackling structural problems, the refurbishment project will seek to create new hireable spaces to generate additional income and invest in the library’s “underutilised” garden.

“The project will futureproof the library facilities for an estimated further ten years and enable more flexible use,” said Brent Council’s Corporate Director of Resident Services.

“It will alleviate some of the pressures of cyclical maintenance required to maintain its current condition.”

New permanent premises for Dundee Museum of Transport 

18 Apr 2023

Dundee Museum of Transport has been granted planning permission to convert an old tram depot into a permanent home.

The museum purchased the 120-metre-long B-listed Maryfield Tram Depot in 2015, along with two acres of surrounding grounds.

Constructed in 1901, it has been on the Buildings at Risk register since 2010. It is scheduled for “extensive renovation”, following which it will serve as the new home of the museum, which is currently based in temporary premises.

The multi-million development plans propose re-using the existing building fabric, conserving and restoring building elements where possible.

A new steel structure and modern panelled roof are set to be installed to the fire-damaged rear section, with translucent panels at high levels introducing light into the new exhibition space, according to plans by local architectural practice Andrew Black Design.

Increasing the internal height will allow for future expansion by adding a mezzanine level, enabling the museum to change its space to suit shifting needs. The design also includes an internal courtyard that will be connected to an external display space.

“To reach the milestone of securing planning permission for our Maryfield site is incredibly exciting,” said Dr Paul Jennings, the museum’s Executive Director.

“The new museum will celebrate Dundee’s transport heritage but also take a look into the future of transport. Over the coming months, we will continue our fundraising efforts in order to try and deliver the new museum to an ambitious timetable.”

Welsh cultural hub receives £36k grant

18 Apr 2023

The Neuadd Dwyfor Arts Centre in Pwllheli has received a £36,000 grant from Arts Council of Wales to develop a new programme.

The funding will allow the cultural hub, situated on the Llŷn Peninsula in Gwynedd, north-western Wales, to offer more live events, including music, cabaret, comedy, dance and theatre.

The theatre and cinema is due to reopen this week following a period of maintenance work to safeguard its historic building, which was built in 1900 and has been an entertainment space since 1902.

Recently completed renovations include re-rendering the external red brickwork, renewing the lead work and installing new windows. 

“This is a new and exciting chapter in the long history of Neuadd Dwyfor, thanks to significant investment to protect this important resource by Cyngor Gwynedd with the support of the Welsh Government,” said Councillor Nia Jeffreys, Cabinet Member for Cyngor Gwynedd's Economy and Community department.

“I am also grateful to the arts council for their support in developing a contemporary arts programme that will attract audiences for this new chapter."

Seven 'at risk' venues to receive Theatres Trust grants

13 Apr 2023

Seven venues on the Theatres At Risk Register are to receive grants from a new Theatres Trust fund.

The theatres receiving a share of the £60,000 fund are Burnley Empire, Derby Hippodrome, Doncaster Grand, Margate Theatre Royal, Morecambe Winter Gardens, Salford Victoria, and Tameside Hippodrome.

The grants have been awarded through the trust's new Resilient Theatres: Resilient Communities programme.

The programme aims to help progress the restoration of historic venues, with the ultimate aim of them reopening to the public.

Work supported by the first round of grants includes governance reviews, a conditions survey, an audience development strategy, and an oral history project.

Theatres Trust Director Jon Morgan said: "We believe every theatre on our Theatres At Risk list has the potential to be returned for use by their communities, providing performance venues of types currently lacking in their local areas, and bringing much needed footfall to town centres.

"We are pleased to support these theatres with projects that will help each theatre move a step closer to their ultimate goal."

Utopia Theatre secures premises for new Youth Academy

05 Apr 2023

African theatre company Utopia Theatre has secured dedicated new premises for its recently launched Youth Academy in Sheffield.

The Youth Academy launched earlier this year and will move from its current home in St Mary’s Church to the new venue in the coming months. 

Utopia Theatre will use the new space to host workshops and performing arts classes for young people of African and Caribbean descent, as well as those from other minority groups. It will also offer a mentoring and training programme. 

The new venue is a 171-square-metre former hairdressing shop unit, located on The Moor. It was secured with the help of Hammond Associates, a Leeds-based company that specialises in making empty commercial property available to artists, arts and community-based charities.

The new premises, which are being offered rent and service-charge free on a temporary basis by landlord NewRiver Retail, will be fitted with workshop and rehearsal spaces.

The theatre will also maintain its base at The Crucible Theatre, where it is a resident company.

“It’s important that our Youth Academy members, alongside our brilliant team at Utopia Theatre, feel a sense of belonging and ownership and I’m confident this will provide a fantastic collaborative, supportive and vibrant workshop and rehearsal space,” said Mojisola Kareem-Elufowoju, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Utopia Theatre.

“It’s also important for us to be able to play our part in the regeneration and re-use of The Moor in Sheffield, so bringing a new lease of life to this area of the city is a real bonus. 

“We are immensely proud of our Sheffield roots and it’s brilliant to be able to play our part in shaping the future of the area by making use of commercial space which is otherwise unused.” 

Oldham Coliseum takes final curtain call

A performance of Bread & Roses at Oldham Coliseum
03 Apr 2023

Sell out event marks the closure of Oldham Coliseum as campaign to secure new theatre in the town gets underway.

Historic South London house to reopen as arts centre

28 Mar 2023

An historic building owned by Southwark Council is set to reopen as an arts centre and events venue.

The Grade II listed Kingswood House in West Dulwich, South London will be refurbished and run by the newly created, not-for-profit community interest company Kingswood Arts CIC.

Originally built in 1811, the property and grounds have been owned and managed by the council since the 1950s.

The house, which has previously been home to a small library and youth club, closed to the public in March 2019 because it was deemed unsafe for public use.

Jack Hartshorn, co-founder and general manager of Kingswood Arts, said: “We are so excited and privileged to be given the opportunity to reopen the doors of this amazing historic building.

"We will operate the building with care, creativity and consciousness of the environment, but most importantly, we believe that co-creation with the community here is the only way to make a genuine impact on people's lives."

Kingswood Arts will be holding a launch festival on the weekend of 8 and 9 April with music, food and drink, and a bouncy castle for children.

Manchester railway arches to become spaces for artists

27 Mar 2023

Three historic railway arches in Manchester are to be transformed into new training and rehearshal spaces for artists.

The £3.7m project is being funded with £2.3m from the government's Levelling Up fund, £900,000 from Manchester City Council and £500,000 from nearby arts venue HOME, which will operate the spaces when they open in May next year.

HOME director Dave Moutrey said the arches "will allow us to grow the work that we do with artists in the North West, across theatre, film, visual art and digital works".

The scheme is part of the council's Culture In The City project, which it secured nearly £20m of Levelling Up funding for.

Council leader Bev Craig said: "These arches are part of our heritage which have sat unloved and underused for many years. 

"This scheme is bringing them back to life with a very modern purpose – complementing the thriving cultural economy in our city."



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