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Arts centre to get £499,000 grant for ‘technological makeover’

PUBLISHED: 14:47 25 October 2018

The community-focussed Colchester Arts Centre, in Church Street. which has received a major Arts Council grant for access improvements. Photo: Gregg Brown

The community-focussed Colchester Arts Centre, in Church Street. which has received a major Arts Council grant for access improvements. Photo: Gregg Brown

An arts centre housed in a redundant medieval church is to get a technological makeover thanks to a £499,000 grant.

Colchester Art Centre director Anthony Roberts Photo: Gregg BrownColchester Art Centre director Anthony Roberts Photo: Gregg Brown

Colchester Arts Centre is being awarded the top amount in the Arts Council’s Capital: Small Grants programme.

The community-focused venue has received the cash for a bold project that will transform the venue’s accessibility for D/deaf and disabled artists and audiences, as well as improving energy efficiency and tech infrastructure.

Anthony Roberts, Colchester Arts Centre’s long-serving director, said that he was delighted that their much-loved venue, which hosted events by emerging artists as well as established stars, was going to be updated and fit-for-purpose for life in the modern world.

“We are thrilled to think our beautiful church will become fully accessible to audiences and artists,” he said. “We are the little church with the big attitude!”

The two and half year project will see Colchester Arts Centre install a new hearing loop throughout the building, accessible showers and toilets, improved handrails and ramps, and better access to the bar.

As well as installing vital accessibility upgrades, improving the experience of disabled staff, performers and audiences, the project will also upgrade the buildings technical and environmental infrastructure.

Mr Roberts said: “The work starts immediately with the replacement of vital equipment such as chairs and sound systems. The building work to improve our toilets and backstage facilities for people with disabilities will start next year. We hope to remain open and operational throughout.”

Solar panels, an energy management system and low-energy LED lighting will be among the upgrades to help reduce energy consumption and the building’s carbon footprint. Whilst new adaptable seating, an improved sound system and a new website with enhanced ticket buying options across multiple platforms will improve the arts centre’s customer experience.

Hedley Swain, area director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “Accessibility and environmental sustainability are two vital areas for arts and cultural organisations to focus on. We’re delighted to support Colchester Arts Centre’s plans to address both these areas and hope that it will provide a solid foundation for its continuing role as a key venue for Colchester.”

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