Multimillion-pound regeneration of arts venue gets green light

Extra screens will be added
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Phoenix cinema and art centre in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter has been given the green light for construction to begin on its multimillion 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 development project – which will see the venue expand to become a four-screen cinema, complete with a new art gallery, a bigger and better café bar, a 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.

By expanding the venue, the Phoenix 2020 project aims to double participation in arts, cinema, and creativity over five years.

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.

Ali Sinclair, chair of Phoenix’s Board of Trustees, said: “I am very excited and somewhat relieved that Phoenix 2020 is entering into the construction phase of the project. There are a lot of people to thank for getting us to this point, including the team at Phoenix, our stake holders Leicester City Council, Arts Council England, the British Film Institute, and our Board of Trustees. We are grateful to be welcoming our customers back after a long period of closure due to COVID-19, and to be able to share this very positive news with them and have tangible evidence of Phoenix 2020 taking shape.”

Peter Knott, area director, Arts Council England said: “This is fantastic news for Leicester and we look forward to seeing this ambitious project take shape as we begin to emerge and recover from the pandemic. Arts and creativity play a vital role in making Leicester a great place to live, work, study and visit, and we’re pleased to be investing in Phoenix as it expands its space, works with technology in new ways and continues to connect with Leicester’s growing population.”

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.”