Town lawyers help theatre company to convert waterfront eyesore

How the Creation Space on Ipswich waterfront will look

A CGI of the Gecko physical theatre company's Creation Space which is taking shape on Ipswich waterfront - Credit: EDRM Architects/Daniel Fisher Architectural Visualisation

Ipswich lawyers have helped a theatre company gain charitable status as it works to transform a town eyesore into an eye-catching artistic space.

Birketts has been helping physical theatre company Gecko to clear the hurdles as it gears up to open its rehearsal space and headquarters in a derelict waterfront building.

The old Burton's confectionery warehouse complex is being cleaned up by specialists and Gecko hopes to move in next year following its transformation.

The company - supported by Ipswich Borough Council - has been working with town-based architects EDRM to create an "industry leading creation and devising space in the heart of Ipswich's waterfront".

Birketts has helped the internationally acclaimed physical theatre organisation to register as a charity and set up a lease for its new premises, the Gecko Creation Space.

The award-winning company - which is led by artistic director Amit Lahav - was founded in 2001 and has created seven critically acclaimed shows, two associate shows and two films. It also has an educational role and organises workshops at schools, colleges and universities across the UK.

It is currently working on its eighth theatre production - commissioned by the National Theatre - which focuses on themes of migration, racism, home and family. 

Birketts' head of charities Liz Brownsell worked closely with the team to provide guidance on the legal requirements for attaining charitable status before applying to the Charity Commission to register the company as a charity. Charitable registration was confirmed on April 6, 2021.

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The law firm's senior associate Louisa Saunders advised it on leasing the property. The scruffy warehouse building will be transformed into a technical creation space for performance and dance as part of a wider scheme to redevelop the buildings on St Peter’s Dock.

The space is due to open in 2022 and Gecko is currently crowdfunding to raise funds to support the project.

Ms Brownsell said: “We began working with Gecko over a year ago and it has been a delight to see everything come together. In light of the impact of the pandemic, artistic outlets are more important than ever for community wellbeing and Birketts was very pleased to be involved with a visionary project like this one. I have no doubt the presence of the Creation Space will play a vital part in growing the region’s cultural offering as well as bringing new visitors to the waterfront.”

Gecko's head of operations and development Steve Allman said they had "very much enjoyed" working with the Birketts team.

"Their friendly, pragmatic, knowledgeable and responsive approach kept the process moving along swiftly and helped us to achieve our goals," he said.

"Gecko is proud to have attained charitable status and this will have a huge impact on how we engage and support our local community, young people and artists, and we look forward to continuing to promote the importance of the arts and arts education in the East of England and beyond.”

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