Warwick Arts Centre has been successful in its bid to the HS2 Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and has secured £250,000 towards its Warwick 20:20 project. The project involves replacing the existing cinema with new state of the art facilities and relocating the Mead Gallery. The upgraded venue will offer the opportunity for the public to engage with Warwick Arts Centre as a community hub for the arts in a range of ways including volunteering, participating in programmes and projects and attending events.
The grant from the HS2 CEF will contribute to the new development which includes transforming the entrance and foyer, replacing blockwork with large expanses of glass to create a light, engaging and welcoming space for visitors. A new three-screen cinema where a diverse range of films can be shown will be created and the Mead Gallery will be made more accessible, visible and welcoming to many more people.
The project will further improve accessibility with new accessible toilets, a gender neutral toilet and the installation of an evacuation lift. The project will be environmentally sustainable, with the introduction of LED lighting, improved heat recovery and a connection to the district heat network, reducing carbon emissions.
The new Arts Centre is a major statement of investment in the arts that will last for decades to come. Communities and audiences will be able to experience the works of contemporary international, national, regional and local artists through a diverse programme of over 2,500 individual events and performances each year.
To celebrate the opening of Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture, this summer Warwick Arts Centre will be presenting some events to kick-start a year of big moments for the city. Social distancing measures will be in place and visitors will receive a warm welcome and the chance to experience some much-missed live theatre. In October 2021, the Centre will fully re-open, with a full programme of events, many rescheduled from last year, and continued City of Culture celebrations.
The HS2 Community and Business funds were launched in 2017 and have to date supported 23 projects in Warwickshire which have shared over £1.3million. Projects have ranged from community facilities upgrades, sports programmes, to programmes to provide transportation for people to access community and healthcare services.
Cathy Elliott, Independent Chair of the HS2 Funds, said: “Arts and culture are a vital part of community life and I am pleased that the Warwick Arts Centre has been successful in its application to the HS2 Community and Environment Fund, and will improve access and facilities for local people.
“The HS2 Funds are available to support local communities and businesses that are impacted by the construction of HS2 and I welcome other organisations near to the line of route to apply and gain the tangible benefits of these funds.”
Doreen Foster, Director of Warwick Arts Centre, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to the HS2 Community Fund for supporting Warwick Arts Centre’s 20:20 redevelopment project. Times have changed since our building first opened in 1974 and our visitors want welcoming public spaces as inspiring as the shows they have come to see. This generous grant will help ensure the Arts Centre remains relevant for modern, diverse audiences. It will also allow us to extend our reach by working with communities to encourage participation in the arts.
“When Warwick Arts Centre reopens in 2021, we will provide a refurbished, vibrant and environmentally sustainable venue appealing to the widest possible audiences. This funding will enable us to inspire future generations through the arts and make a huge impact on people’s lives.”
As construction of HS2 gets underway, applications for the funds are still being welcomed. The Funds for Phase One, independently administered by community charity Groundwork UK, support urban and rural, community, environmental and business projects.