Historic tower to house art centre

AN arts centre for Felixstowe has been identified as one of the key projects in a new strategy to improve the arts in the Suffolk coastal area.The centre would be housed in an historic Martello Tower - but it will be at least three years before it becomes reality.

AN arts centre for Felixstowe has been identified as one of the key projects in a new strategy to improve the arts in the Suffolk coastal area.

The centre would be housed in an historic Martello Tower - but it will be at least three years before it becomes reality.

However work on the venture is to start immediately, with meetings this month to agree what the centre will be like and what it will cater for, and how consultation should be carried out with potential users.

Next month councillors will be asked to agree the way forward and in March details of consultation will be approved ready for that aspect of the scheme to take place in May.


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Details of the positive start on the scheme for Martello Tower P on the 17-acre south seafront are contained in a report to district councillors.

Repair of the tower is to be paid for by the development of the beachside site with homes and a maritime park.

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The council's partner in the project, Bloor Homes, has agreed £220,000 should be spent on refurbishing the tower in line with work plans put forward by English Heritage.

However, councillors were told two years ago refurbishment and conversion of the Napoleonic tower into an art gallery would cost around £750,000.

It is not known whether any extra money from the profit-sharing deal with Bloors will be available this time around - or whether the council will have to seek lottery and other funding for the project.

But its new strategy for the arts is confident it can succeed, especially as Felixstowe is an area identified as having “low community arts provision”.

The report, called Adding Value to Communities Through the Arts, said: “There is a notable lack of public gallery space for curated shows, exhibition of local work, including children's, touring national shows, workshops and residencies.

“This is a missed opportunity as the district benefits from a rich vein of resident visual artists and makers. Felixstowe, which has the largest population of the district, is poorly served with arts venues.”

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