Arts Council invests £4 million in Leicester Venue

Arts Council England has awarded £4 million from the National Lottery to Leicester’s Phoenix to enrich more people’s lives through digital arts and film.

With support from Arts Council’s Capital funding programme, Phoenix cinema and arts centre is on course to expand its current building and become a four-screen independent cinema by the year 2020.

The development project – Phoenix 2020 – will see the centre increase the number of its cinema screens from two to four; create a larger and more prominent digital art gallery; a bigger café bar and kitchen; and the extension of existing spaces for education, filmmaking and creative learning.

The Phoenix Square, where Phoenix has been based since 2009, is already a hub for digital arts, creative media and independent cinema in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter and this new funding will allow even more audiences and creatives in the Midlands to use it.

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “This is fantastic news for Leicester and a great opportunity for Phoenix to do something really ambitious – to expand its space, work with technology in new ways and continue to connect with Leicester’s growing population.

“Arts and culture play a vital role in making Leicester a great place to live, work, study and visit, and we’re pleased to be investing in a project which will benefit so many local people and their communities. When arts, cultural and heritage organisations join forces with local authorities, enterprise partnerships, tourism boards and businesses, great things can happen – and where there are great ideas and genuine partnerships – our funding has made a huge impact.”

John Rance, Chief Executive of Phoenix said: “This is a great opportunity for us to put digital arts and film in more accessible and visible spaces for exhibition, learning and creativity. With Arts Council’s generous support we have taken a major step towards realising our ambition to reach out to a much wider and diverse population in and around Leicester.

“Arts Council’s investment brings Phoenix closer to the £7 million needed to complete the project by the end of 2020. Planning permission for the development has been awarded and we expect to have 83% of the funding in place by the end of April. We’re working to raise at least a further £500,000 in the coming months so that we can start building later this year. We are close to reaching our fundraising target and would welcome all the support we can get to help us reach the finish line.”

Cllr Adam Clarke, Deputy City Mayor with responsibility for St George’s Cultural Quarter said: “It’s excellent news that the Arts Council has confirmed its funding for the expansion of Phoenix Cinema and Art Centre.

“Since Phoenix moved into the Cultural Quarter nine years ago, it has more than doubled its visitor numbers and generates around £2.6m in visitor spending into Leicester’s economy. Its expansion will help to attract more visitors to the area and boost Leicester’s reputation as a centre for the arts and creative industries.

“I’m delighted the City Council’s commitment made last year to invest £1m in the project has helped to secure the Arts Council funding and wish Phoenix luck in obtaining the remaining funds needed.”

The £4 million investment is part of Arts Council’s Capital funding programme, designed to ensure companies and venues have the buildings and equipment they need to provide great artistic and cultural experiences to their local communities. One of just a few regional centres in the UK specialising in digital culture and creativity, Phoenix engages communities in diverse areas across Leicester and Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire, through digital arts, film making and community cinema.

Phoenix is also an Arts Council England, National Portfolio Organisation for 2018-22, receiving £80,464 each year to support its digital art programme.

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