Letchworth entertainment venue to become multi-million pound regional arts centre
AN ENTERTAINMENT venue is set to become a purpose-built multi-million pound arts centre, the Comet can reveal today (Wednesday).
Plinston in Letchworth GC will be taken on by Letchworth Arts Centre in a five-year project which will see it become a regional centre for arts.
Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation made the announcement having shut the building in March while plans were developed.
The centre in Broadway will consist of a 300-seat multipurpose auditorium, gallery, practice and dance spaces and a caf� or restaurant, and it is hoped it will attract as many as 100,000 visitors per year.
The project comes after Letchworth Arts Centre’s visitors to its current base in The Arcade have doubled during the past four years, with 20,000 people currently using the town centre facility each year.
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The plans have been drawn up by a team led by the Heritage Foundation and including North Hertfordshire District Council, North Hertfordshire College, the University of Hertfordshire and Letchworth Arts Centre.
A consultation to shape the use of the centre will begin at the start of next year, with North Hertfordshire College using the building during the short-term as temporary teaching accommodation while its Hitchin campus is redeveloped.
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After getting the go-ahead from the board, the Heritage Foundation is now searching for funding partners to back the scheme. The charitable organisation is also looking to appoint an arts and cultural development manager later this year to drive forward new activities working alongside Letchworth Arts Centre, community groups and other partners.
“Having worked hard to deliver arts activities in Letchworth for the past six years, we’re really excited to be part of this project and see our ambitions becoming a reality,” said Maria Iredale, chief executive of Letchworth Arts Centre.
“This new venue will allow us to attract professional performances and bigger productions to Letchworth, taking the arts experience on to another level.”
John Lewis, chief executive of the Heritage Foundation, said: “This is an exciting step forward. Having been working behind the scenes with our group of partners and advisers it’s great to share our ambitions with the community, especially as they will play such an important part in making the project a success.
“As we work with partners to attract funding and deliver the scheme, community consultation and arts activities will be essential to prove that Letchworth Garden City is worth investing in.”