Today two Ipswich-based arts organisations have been awarded a total of £750,000 following successful applications to Arts Council England’s Small Scale Capital Fund to enhance the town’s vibrant cultural offer.
DanceEast, awarded £390,456, plans to reconfigure its foyer and public areas to accommodate the increase in its performance programme, improve signage throughout the building and undertake a number of energy-savings initiatives. The New Wolsey will receive £359,866 to upgrade its technical and production resources.
Brendan Keaney, DanceEast Artistic Director & Chief Executive said “DanceEast is cultivating a dynamic and growing audience for dance. Over the last three years we have seen attendances to performances at the DanceHouse grow by 30%. Our plan is to transform the front of house facilities to create a more welcoming, vibrant space to accommodate this growth. We want to ensure that we deliver a range of activities including post show talks and child centred activities to accompany family friendly shows that match the quality of our theatre programme. Arts Council investment is not simply good news for DanceEast it is great news for Ipswich and the East of England.”
Sarah Holmes, Chief Executive at the New Wolsey Theatre said: “The New Wolsey Theatre strives to achieve excellence in all aspects of its work, and we are delighted that news of our successful application to build on our current technical resources means we can fulfil this high standard. We will have a wider choice of shows to consider producing, and we will have the facility to innovate ways of providing D/deaf and disabled audiences access to our work. We will have a wider choice of touring shows to present, welcoming even more visiting companies to Ipswich and Suffolk. And our Production Arts Diploma students will take their first steps towards a professional career as technicians with up to date equipment. It’s an incredible investment the Arts Council has made to two world class venues in Ipswich, highlighting the potential the area has in developing new audiences and new work.”
DanceEast has been operating in the Jerwood DanceHouse for six years and as the performance programme has grown, it has become clear that the building needs more flexible public spaces to accommodate a range of new activities. An improved gallery and box office area will increase the organisation’s ability to host external hires; offering a greater number of flexible layouts. The principle aim is to make the space more accessible and ensure that more people get to enjoy one of the finest DanceHouses in the UK.
Originally built in the 1970s, the New Wolsey Theatre has gradually adapted its building to become more welcoming, more accessible, and has increased its footprint across the town adding two venues – the New Wolsey Studio and the High Street Exhibition Gallery. The planned works include upgrading existing technical infrastructure, replacing ageing assets and installing new technology, including a new high speed network and audio/AV equipment. This work will ensure the theatre continues to reach high standards of production, artistic activity and training across all areas.
Together DanceEast and the New Wolsey Theatre are working with key cultural providers, local authority partners and the New Anglia LEP to promote the dynamic and diverse cultural offer across Norfolk and Suffolk. It has been recognised that the Arts and Culture attract visitors, improve the quality of life and create a sense of place. They also play major roles in stimulating the economy and advancing social change. Local regeneration is gaining momentum and ACE support through its Small Scale Capital Fund further highlights that now is the time to improve the visibility, accessibility and efficiency of both organisations and showcase Ipswich as a cultural beacon.