£5.3m Refurbishment For Poole Lighthouse

16 October 2014, 08:11

Poole's Lighthouse arts centre has been given almost £4 million towards a major refurbishment.

The money from Arts Council England means work should start on the £5.3 million project next summer.

It includes improving performance and rehearsal spaces, as well as making the centre more energy efficient.

Lighthouse, the UK's largest regional arts centre, has been awarded £3.88 million from Arts Council England. This is in addition to a previous award of £118,000 which supported the development stage. The project will ensure Lighthouse is sustainable, resilient, innovative and well-maintained for the next phase of delivering a unique cultural, economic and social facility.

The award will support Lighthouse to:
- Reduce energy output and improve environmental efficiency
- Improve access and ensure a more welcoming experience for artists and audiences
- Improve performance, rehearsal and conference spaces.

Specifically the funding will support
- Improving the technical facilities and infrastructure of the Concert Hall and Theatre auditoria to unlock greater conditions for artistic performance, including the conditions for the rehearsal and performance of their resident orchestra Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO), making the environment more comfortable and effective for audiences and artists

- Radically changing the Studio theatre, including audience access, technical facilities and increased performance and seating space, transforming  this venue into a fully flexible creation space to further support the work of emerging and 'must see' artistic talent within the South West  

- Improving back of house areas by introducing an artist Green Room, to provide a much-improved setting that is an inspiring and conducive environment for artists to prepare for performance

- Updating and upgrading Function Room space to offer the local community and businesses a fit for purpose and attractive conferencing space for hire, which will help to increase commercial income which can then be invested back into the artistic programme

- Making significant improvements to the building's infrastructure to reduce cost and improve energy efficiencies, including moving the entrance so that the building can be zoned off for heating and lighting.

CEO Elspeth McBain said:

"This significant award from Arts Council England, added to the support we have had from Borough of Poole and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is great news for Poole and Dorset. It will enable Lighthouse, as custodians of this wonderful building, to update and improve many aspects for the benefit of all users.

"As a combined arts venue presenting an exceptional depth and breadth of artistic provision, the project will enable us to provide a world class facility for BSO as well as other established and emerging artists, in which to create and present their work.

"Our distinctive building is our greatest asset and we must look after it well to ensure we have a facility that supports the cultural life of our community and is here for audiences and artists in the future. We are excited that this award gives us the opportunity to do so."

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said:

"We're delighted to support the refurbishment of Lighthouse through this award of £3.88million from our National Lottery-funded Capital programme.  This will be a transformative project for a venue which plays an increasingly important role in the region and which will be more accessible, more resilient and more sustainable as a result. 

"Lighthouse is a flagship cultural destination and we look forward to seeing the venue flourish with the help of our investment."

Chief Executive for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Dougie Scarfe said:

"I am delighted that the Arts Council England has confirmed its additional funding support towards the Lighthouse Capital development project to improve facilities at Lighthouse.

"I am really pleased to be working so closely with Lighthouse to deliver these plans that will see our audiences, performers and the wider community benefit from the improvements in a building that I am proud to have as the home for our world-class orchestra - the BSO. Home to the BSO since it opened in 1978, Lighthouse is where we plan, create, rehearse and perform our work, work which is then 'exported' right across the region, county and in the case of our broadcasts and recording, the world."

Work will happen in two phases and is expected to start in the summer of 2015.

With further grants secured from Borough of Poole and BSO towards the refurbishment, Lighthouse has raised almost 90% of the required funding. Lighthouse will announce plans later in the year for a major fundraising appeal to raise the remaining funds needed to complete its refurbishment and to fulfil longer term artistic and community engagement ambitions for audiences and artists.