Arts Council reaffirms commitment to Phoenix 2020 cinema expansion plan with £645,000 award

Phoenix cinema and art centre has been awarded a ‘Capital Kickstart’ grant of £645,586 in support of the charity’s Phoenix 2020 expansion plans.

Phoenix - artist illustration image

The award was announced today by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England from its £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund: £58.9 million has been awarded through the fund’s Capital Kickstart grants programme, and over £165 million has been offered through the Repayable Finance programme.

The Capital Kickstart award is designed to support cultural organisations which have already been awarded capital grants by Arts Council, but whose projects have been delayed by Covid-19. Phoenix was awarded £4 million of National Lottery money towards the project by Arts Council in April 2019.

Originally planned for completion this year, the Phoenix 2020 project aims to double participation in arts, cinema and creativity over five years by expanding the charity’s city centre venue. It is expected to make a valuable contribution to the local economy through increased visitor spending and enhanced support for local artists and creative businesses.

Like most cultural venues, Phoenix has been badly hit by Covid-19. Since 17 March the venue has been open only 29 days which has had a big impact on the many people who visit Phoenix, as well as artists, filmmakers and the many small local businesses that supply the charity.

Phoenix has continued to pursue funding for Phoenix 2020 whilst closed. In October, it was awarded a further £400,000 as one of a number of economic priorities announced by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership.

John Rance, CEO of Phoenix, said: “We are currently working with our architects and construction partners to develop the final plans and costings for Phoenix 2020, whilst continuing our fundraising efforts. Covid-19 has caused delays and disruptions to the project, but we remain committed to making Phoenix 2020 happen and have the continued support of our stakeholders and funders. The award of the Kickstart funding means the project is much more likely to go ahead.

“We have been heartened by the many hundreds of individual donations we have received from our customers, as well as public funding from Arts Council England, and our other stakeholders.”

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England said: "Arts and culture play a vital role in making Leicester a great place to live, work, study and visit, so we’re pleased to be supporting the Phoenix as it continues an ambitious project to expand its space, add new cinema screens and create a more prominent digital art gallery.

“Our Capital Grants programme provides organisations with vital funding to ensure they have the right buildings and equipment to help them become more sustainable and innovative places, as they deliver exciting work to the public. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to increasing costs and time delays to many projects, so we’re delighted to offer additional funding to make sure these projects are completed, re-opened and of benefit to all.”

Leicester City Council’s deputy city mayor for culture, leisure and sport, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, said: “This is great news for Phoenix, an organisation we are proud to support. This has been a tremendously difficult year for arts venues, so I’m sure this valuable support from Arts Council England will be of great benefit to Phoenix as it continues with its ambitious and exciting expansion plans.”

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “This government promised it would be here for culture and today’s announcement is proof we’ve kept our word.

“The £1 billion invested so far through the Culture Recovery Fund has protected tens of thousands of jobs at cultural organisations across the UK, with more support still to come through a second round of applications.

“Today we’re extending a huge helping hand to the crown jewels of UK culture - so that they can continue to inspire future generations all around the world.”

Today’s announcement follows several previous rounds of investment from the Culture Recovery Fund, which saw £428 million distributed to over 2000 cultural organisations though the Grants programme, alongside the £3.36 million Emergency Grassroots Music Venues Fund. The financing announced today takes the total allocated from the Culture Recovery Fund over £1 billion, delivering on the government’s commitment to be here for culture in every corner of the country during this pandemic.

The Repayable Finance programme will provide loans of £3 million and above to some of England’s largest and most prestigious cultural organisations, helping them to weather the effects of the pandemic and reopen when it is safe to do so. 

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