Despite the challenges of the past 18 months and delays caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, Phoenix cinema and art centre in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter has finally got the green light for construction to begin on its exciting multi-million pound expansion project, known as ‘Phoenix 2020’.
With funding support and investment from Arts Council England of over £5M and from Leicester City Council of over £2M, the ambitious development project – which will see the much-loved Leicester venue expand to become a four-screen cinema, complete with a new art gallery, a bigger and better Café Bar, a stunning roof terrace and more spaces for making and learning – is finally on the verge of becoming a reality.
Further pledges of support have also been received from national funding organisations, including £135,000 from The Foyle Foundation, an independent grant-making trust. The British Film Institute has provided revenue funding support for the development, and Leicester City Council has granted Phoenix use of the land through a long term lease.
Having moved to the city’s Cultural Quarter from its previous home in 2009, Phoenix has developed a strong regional reputation as a hub for independent film and digital creativity, with a rich programme spanning film, art, and education. By expanding the venue, the Phoenix 2020 project aims to double participation in arts, cinema, and creativity over five years, and will make a valuable contribution to the local economy through increased visitor spending and enhanced support for local artists and creative businesses.
Construction began on 13th September and will last for around 12-15 months, with the venue remaining open to the public for much of the build. Phase 1 will see the creation of a dedicated digital learning suite, which will be opened in early 2022; the new cinema screens, art gallery, Café Bar and roof terrace will be unveiled in early 2023.
Though building has commenced, Phoenix still has a remaining fundraising target of £210k to support the fit-out and user experience aspects of the project. So far over 200 individuals and small businesses in Leicester and Leicestershire have generously donated to the ‘Phoenix 2020: Be Part of It’ campaign, but Phoenix is still actively seeking donations and sponsorship to reach this target.
Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Phoenix is an important part of the city’s cultural landscape, and I am very pleased that this project, which will enable it to expand and improve what it has to offer, can get underway. Like very many businesses, Phoenix’s trade has been hit hard over the last 18 months, and without this work taking place, the charity would find it harder to remain viable. Phoenix has done well to secure funding from many different sources, including the city council, and the planned programme of work will help safeguard this important venue’s future.”